Building Maine's Workforce
The Foundation understands that the prosperity of Maine’s citizens requires a thriving economy, one in which opportunity exists for all those willing to work. At the same time, our nation is undergoing a dramatic transformation from an industrial to technology and data-driven economy.
With the emergence of artificial intelligence and automation, we see special challenges to build on the American dream for our nation’s middle-class and less-advantaged youth, in particular. Well over 60% of the future jobs will require not only a high school diploma, but higher education attainment in some form; yet over 60% of our population have not achieved higher education credentials, let alone in disciplines required by the economy. The Foundation and our partners strive to address this gap in skills through innovative and transformational projects.
In 2016, the Foundation launched the Alfond Leaders program to reduce student debt for a competitively-selected group of Maine workers in occupations or capacities involving Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skills, background, education, or disciplines. It is the aim of this project to encourage talented STEM professionals to come to, or stay in, Maine to work in high-demand occupations.
In 2017, the Foundation began partnering with FocusMaine with the aim of creating high-quality jobs in traded sectors of Maine’s economy; specifically agriculture, aquaculture, biopharmaceuticals, and knowledge workers. These sectors have been identified as areas where Maine has a competitive advantage and jobs in these fields will have profound and lasting impacts on Maine’s workforce, as a whole.
In 2021, the Foundation helped fund the Harold Alfond Center for the Advancement of Maine’s Workforce, an innovative statewide workforce development program at the Maine Community College System. The aim of this program is to deliver responsive, short-term training programs aimed at addressing the shortage of skilled and qualified workers needed by the state’s employers.