Portland Adult Education Launches New Mainer Teller Training Program

Portland Adult Education (PAE) has partnered with six banks and credit unions to offer this program, which will help foreign-trained professionals gain entry into the financial services industry by training them as bank tellers. Financial institutions will gain a diverse talent pool of potential employees.

PORTLAND, Maine – A new Portland Adult Education (PAE) program will help foreign-trained professionals gain entry into the financial services industry by training them as bank tellers.

The New Mainer Teller Training program launched Jan. 6 with 15 students and will run through April 3. The partnership includes Portland Adult Education, the New Mainers Resource Center, six banks and credit unions, ProsperityME, the Center for Financial Training & Education Alliance, and the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce. The participating financial institutions include: Bank of America (BOA), Bangor Savings Bank, cPort Credit Union, Gorham Savings Bank, Infinity Federal Credit Union and Norway Savings Bank.

The program will provide students with financial services backgrounds the opportunity to re-enter their field in the United States. Financial institutions will gain a diverse pool of trained tellers with a wealth of prior experience as potential employees.

“Thank you to Bank of America, one of PAE’s strongest community supporters, the Portland Regional Chamber and all our other partners for joining with us to launch this exciting new initiative,” said Xavier Botana, Superintendent of the Portland Public Schools, of which PAE is a part. “This course is a great example of a community-wide collaboration that will help not only our students to succeed but also will benefit the Greater Portland community and state. Maine has a labor shortage and the skills and experience of new Mainers are needed to help address it.”

PAE Assistant Director Elizabeth Love said, “Portland’s immigrants are eager to become contributing members of their new community, and PAE has a 172-year history of helping new Mainers achieve their academic and professional goals.  This program offers an entry point into the financial services industry, and we  hope graduates will have opportunities to advance their careers in the sector.”

Representatives from area financial institutions helped build the curriculum and are lending their expertise as team-teachers with PAE instructors. “We have been amazed by the energy and support from our employer partners,” PAE Project Coordinator Bridget Kahn said. The 12-week, 165-hour program consists of six courses: Today’s Teller (an American Banking Association designed curriculum), Customer Service, Computer Skills and Business Writing, Basic Math and Cash Handling, Personal Finance and Job Search Strategies.

“PAE had more than 30 applicants for the course and struggled to narrow it down to 15,” Kahn said. The 15 students are from nine countries: China, Iraq, Jamaica, Zambia, Namibia, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Cote d’Ivoire and Rwanda. All have financial or customer service backgrounds and many have bachelor’s and graduate degrees. “There is so much talent and expertise in the room. The employers are constantly commenting on the students’ depth of knowledge and insightful questions,” Kahn said.

Mohammed Baqer, one of the students in the course, has a bachelor’s degree in physics and used to work on the Iraq Stock Exchange. He is excited to re-enter his field. “I would love to be a professional teller in the future to help our community,” he said.

Todd Beacham, BOA Senior Vice President and the Business Banking Market Manager for Maine, Seacoast NH, and Vermont, reinforced the collaborative nature of the program. “The New Mainer Teller Training is a great example of the business community, the banking sector, and Portland Adult Education working together on workforce development. I am confident that this is only the beginning of our collaborative efforts.”

Chamber CEO Quincy Hentzel added, “Should the teller training prove successful, we plan to look at other industry sectors where similar opportunities might exist. In the end, it is all about building our workforce and helping new Mainers find financial stability.“

The New Mainer Teller Training program was a factor in PAE recently winning a Portland Regional Chamber Imagine Portland Collaborator Award.

For more information, contact Bridget Kahn, Instructor/Project Coordinator, Portland Adult Education, at kahnb@portlandschools.org or 207-874-8155.

This story was submitted by Tess Nacelewicz, Communications Coordinator for Portland Public Schools as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. If you have a story or an idea for this campaign, email it to Rachel Paling at rachel.paling@maine.gov.