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March 30, 2024

In March Podcast, King Discusses Innovative New Training Program to Fill Critical Workforce Shortages

To listen to the latest Inside Maine Podcast click here

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Office of U.S. Senator Angus King (I-ME) today released the March episode of his “Inside Maine” podcast, in which he discussed the newly-formed Maine Defense Industry Alliance (MDIA) and the need for training programs that minimize workforce shortages. During the podcast, President of Maine Community College System, Dave Daigler, joined Senator King to discuss how Maine community colleges are working to align training programs with employer needs. Later in the podcast, Samantha Haskell joined Senator King to share her perspective as a recent graduate of Kennebec Valley Community College and one of the nation’s top young welders.

The Maine Defense Industrial Alliance (MDIA) is a new non-profit coalition of Maine industrial businesses, state agencies, community colleges and universities, and other vocational training organizations. The partnership was created to attract and train thousands of new employees to perform critical jobs in Maine’s defense industrial base. The defense sector in Maine employs 19,000 people across more than 150 companies, totaling $3.2 billion in defense spending in 2021. Over the next ?ve years, the state’s top three employers in the sector anticipate needing to ?ll a total of 7,500 positions.

“Maine’s defense industry is a cornerstone of our state economy and national security,” said Senator King. “The Maine Defense Industrial Alliance will help bridge workforce gaps and equip students with the skills they need to secure good-paying jobs. By encouraging collaboration between employers and the leaders of our education system, such as David, we can help more students like Sam become the next-generation of leaders in Maine’s key industries.”

Dave Daigler became president of the Maine Community College System in January 2019. The seven community colleges serve more than 30,000 people a year, through two-year associate degree and one-year certificate programs, short-term workforce training, early college programs, advanced certificates, and other learning opportunities. Daigler previously served as chief financial officer from 2003 to 2019 and vice president from 2015 to 2019. As president, Daigler is a strong advocate for programmatic innovations that leverage strong relationships with the state’s employers and leaders to transform educational opportunities in Maine, dramatically expanding the scope of what the community colleges offer and creating new educational opportunities that are more effective, efficient, and accessible to Maine people.

Samantha Haskell is a Certified Welder working for Reed & Reed in Woolrich, Maine and is one of the top young welders in the country. She graduated from Kennebec Valley Community College in 2023 with a certificate in welding. While at KVCC, Samantha participated in a year-long series of project-based competitions, ultimately qualifying as one of 25 students nationwide, and one of two KVCC students, to compete in the inaugural Project MFG National Welding League Championship in 2023, held in Kirtland Ohio. Both Samantha and the other KVCC student placed in the top 10. Project MFG is funded by the Department of Defense’s Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment (IBAS) program as part of the National Imperative for Industrial Skills (KIIS) initiative. Samantha is from Gardiner, Maine and graduated from Gardiner Area High School in 2022. While in high school, Samantha took advantage of the Machine Tool and Welding program at the Capital Area Technical Center to get an early introduction to the skills necessary for her welding career.

More information about the launch of the MDIA can be found here.

The "Inside Maine" podcast airs on the last Saturday of the month and aims to keep Maine people informed about issues, how they affect life in the state, and how they factor into Senator King’s work.


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