The international talent that has arrived in Maine in recent years is both skilled and motivated, and offers a tangible solution to the demographic challenges confronting Maine as the whitest and oldest state in the country. The average age of immigrants is 27, compared to 43.6 in native born Mainers; 37% of immigrants in Maine have a bachelor’s degree or above; and 42% are enrolled in college or graduate school, compared to 27.8% in the native population. Portland’s immigrant population accounts for 75% of Portland’s total demographic growth since 2011.
Maine suffers from a huge “brain waste” challenge – the underutilization of highly skilled immigrants. Causes of the “brain waste” are varied: limited proficiency in English, especially in vocationally-specific language and usage; recertification hurdles and costs; inability to receive “credit” or some kind of value for prior learning and academic experience; the tendency of some employers to discount foreign training and experience; limited professional and social networks in the U.S; a lack of information and guidance about career re-entry requirements.
Information and resources are available, however, to help newcomers gain marketable skills, advance in a career in the U.S., or apply their prior experience to a career right here in Maine. Please explore the suggestions below, and if none of the options seem to apply to your situation, email the City of Portland Office of Economic Opportunity for help connecting you to the right resource: https://[email protected]
Maine Department of Labor Career Centers across the state can connect you to free training, apprenticeships, and resources. They offer one-on-one and group support to boost your resume or improve your interviewing skills, among many other offerings. Visit a local Career Center to ask them about new opportunities: www.mainecareercenter.gov/locations/index.shtml
Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services provides support for career development. To reach a case manager who can describe what support is available please call (207) 871-7437.
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is designed to help job seekers with a range of immigration statuses to access employment, paid education, no-cost training, and support services to succeed in the labor market. WIOA providers operate in every region of the state.
Aroostook Community Action Program (ACAP) serves residents of Aroostook County https://www.acap-me.org/workforce-development.html. Contact Kathy Williams (207) 554-4137, [email protected]
Eastern Maine Development Corporation (EMDC) serves residents of Hancock, Kennebec, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, and Washington counties. https://www.emdc.org/workforce. Contact Amanda Smith (207) 951-2349 , [email protected]
Community Concepts (CCI) serves residents of Androscoggin, Franklin, and Oxford counties. www.ccimaine.org. Contact Cathy Stairs (207) 753-9037 , [email protected]
Workforce Solutions serves residents of Cumberland, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Waldo, and York counties . https://www.workforcesolutionsme.org. Contact Sarah Overlock (207) 930-7047, [email protected] In Portland, call (207) 775-5891, or visit 190 Lancaster Street. https://www.goodwillnne.org/locations/goodwill-workforce-solutions-office-portland-me/
New Mainers Resource Center at Portland Adult Education provides programs for skilled professionals, employment and case management, intensive classes focused on job readiness skills, networking opportunities, workshops, and others designed to help New Mainers of all professions overcome barriers to entering the U.S. workforce. NMRC participants also can take advantage of other classes and programs offered both at Portland Adult Education and by community partners. The Center guides participants through licensing and certification processes. Upcoming classes include topics such as CDL (Truck Driver), Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA), or Education Academy (for those aspiring to be teachers). Please visit Portland Adult Education or email Sally Sutton at [email protected]