Maine's Boatbuilding Industry Working Towards a Superior Workforce
In 2005, Maine won a Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration. The grant focused on boatbuilding, Maine's third largest employer in the manufacturing sector. Maine's boatbuilding industry is over 400 years old, and boats from Maine are recognized around the world for their craftsmanship and quality. The grant worked to train over 1800 workers with the skills required to build boats using the latest technologies and modern materials, and to upgrade the professional skill set of the boatbuilding workforce.
The training that Maine's boatbuilding and composites industries received broadened the possibilities in many other fields, including alternative energy. "One of the greatest benefits of the grant is that owners of small businesses across the state of Maine got to know each other and began to understand the value of working collaboratively," said Jane Wellehan, President of Maine Built Boats, a trade association dedicated to building appreciation, awareness, and demand for Maine's boatbuilding industry. "Some businesses have begun bidding on work together, while others are collaboratively developing similar computer software programs. The boatbuilding workforce received a tremendous amount of formal on-the-job training through the grant, but just as important were the connections that were fostered over the last 4 years. These connections will continue to broaden and deepen as our industry moves forward."
As the economy rebounds, Maine's boatbuilding industry will be uniquely positioned to fuse its traditional craftsmanship with a workforce that is now highly trained in the latest technologies.