New education models, workforce preparedness discussed at Midcoast forum

ROCKLAND — Officials from Maine’s education and business worlds came together Oct. 3 to discuss the transition to a new model for public education, the role of technology in the classroom and workplace, and what’s required to equip Maine’s students with the skills they’ll need for successful careers.

The event, “Education – an Economic Imperative for the Midcoast,” featured Maine Development Foundation President Laurie Lachance, Gov. Paul LePage, school administrators from Maine’s Midcoast, and a panel discussion with Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen and representatives from business and higher education.

Maine’s employment base has fundamentally shifted over the past two decades, said Lachance, a former state economist.

Today, she said, the portion of Maine’s labor force employed by the health care sector is about equal to the portion employed in manufacturing in 1990.

“Think about it: It’s not that simple to walk off the factory floor and walk into the hospital,” Lachance said. “Something has to happen in between, and that’s education.”

And while Maine’s economic prospects depend in part on retraining adults to fill new positions, Lachance said, the state needs to make investments in early childhood education, postsecondary education and a K-12 education system that meets students’ needs, but doesn’t rely on expensive and duplicative infrastructure.

“It’s imperative that we invest in every single Maine person,” Lachance said. “We can’t afford for anyone to drop out of the Maine economy.”

Read news coverage from the event

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