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Maine Development Foundation

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Business group says Maine must recruit 65,000 more workers

WCSH 6 - Don Carrigan

Date:

November 19th, 2013

AUBURN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The state's leading business group says Maine will need to find tens of thousands of new workers to keep the economy going over the next decade.

The Maine State Chamber of Commerce and Maine Development Foundation today released a plan to make it happen.The two groups say Maine's workforce is rapidly growing older, and there are fewer young workers to replace all those aging Baby Boomers when they retire.

The State Chamber says that over the next ten years, 200,000 workers will reach traditional retirement age, and that by 2020, if currewnt trends continue, there will be 20,000 fewer people in the workforce. The report sets a goal to recruit 65,000-new workers by 2020 - just seven years from now. And it says that business will need to reach out to people not currently working to achieve the goal.

The plan targets, people with disabilities, military veterans, people over 65, college students and foreign workers to fill the gap. It also targets so-called "disengaged youth"-young adults who are no longer in school and not working. The study says there are currently 17,000 Maine young people who fit that description. The plan says some other states have found ways to bring those same groups into their workforce and Maine can do the same.

Those groups say the need ir urgent, and that Maine's economy cannot return to prosperity if we don't have enough people to do the work. The Maine Development Foundation says some businesses are already recruiting disabled workers, veterans and older workers., but many others will need to learn from those examples. They say it will be up to both business and government to work together to make the changes happen.

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