The Professional Logging Contractors of Maine (PLC) has been working with Eastern Maine Community College (EMCC), Northern Maine Community College (NMCC) and Washington County Community College (WCCC), to develop a first of its kind post-secondary Mechanical Forest Operator Training Program model that will be accessible throughout the State of Maine. The proposed non-credit certificate program, which will be offered on a rotating basis at different locations throughout northern and eastern Maine, has been designed to produce professional equipment operators with the knowledge and skills that are necessary to fulfill industry vacancies in mechanical forest operations. See below for an overview of the proposed program.
To get this ambitious program off the ground, the PLC and the three community college partners have been working on a funding strategy with other industry partners and a bi-partisan group of Maine legislators, including leadership from the Maine House of Representatives as well as the Maine Senate. Speaker of the House, Mark Eves, has made the needs of the logging industry a priority throughout his jobs tour earlier this year and has worked with other legislative leaders, including House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, House Assistant Majority Leader Sara Gideon, and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Andre Cushing to craft legislation which will help get this program off the ground in late 2015. LD 1373, An Act to Create the Put ME to Work Program, is a bi-partisan effort by members of the Maine Legislature to assist the logging industry train the next generation of logging operators that are desperately needed throughout the State. If successful, this bill will provide operational funding for the next two years to get this important program off the ground.
The support of the Maine Legislature could not come at a more critical time. Not only is the logging industry in desperate need of new operators to run complex machinery, but the industry has also stepped up to provide its support for this program. In addition to the endorsement of the PLC of Maine, two weeks ago, one of this country’s largest equipment manufacturers, committed to provide $1.2 million of equipment if the State can provide the operational funding that is required to get this program off the ground. This kind of industry support is not only an endorsement of this educational approach but a recognition of the logging industry as a critical component of the Maine economy.
On Monday, May 18th, 9:30am in the Committee on Labor, Commerce Research and Economic Development, Cross Office Building, Room 208, Augusta, a public hearing has been scheduled to debate the merits of this bill. It is vital for the PLC membership, our supporting members and other industry partners to testify in support of this legislation.
Please let us know if you will be able to attend the hearing on Monday so we can keep a running list of who will be in attendance.
Dana Doran- Executive Director PLC: 207-688-8195 or firstname.lastname@example.org