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June 27, 2018 | last updated June 29, 2018 12:34 pm

Sunday River Resort, state launch culinary training partnership

Courtesy / Sunday River Resort
Courtesy / Sunday River Resort
Maine Labor Commissioner John Butera presents Cathy Witherspoon, senior vice president of human resources for Boyne Resorts, with the Maine Apprenticeship Program sponsor certificate.

Sunday River Resort and the Maine Department of Labor are teaming up to establish a culinary apprenticeship program, which was made official at a sponsor ceremony held at the resort on Thursday.

The program will develop 10 culinary professionals who will receive on-the-job training at Sunday River to be supplemented by classroom instruction at Central Maine Community College and Southern Maine Community College. The apprentices will be employed by the resort upon completion of the program.

The ceremony was led by Cathy Witherspoon, senior vice president of human resources for Boyne Resorts, which owns and manages Sunday River Resort. Witherspoon was responsible for initiating the program at Sunday River. At the ceremony, she articulated the need the program addresses and the value it would bring to Sunday River's culinary services.

"This partnership is an exciting opportunity for Sunday River and our entire resort portfolio, and we are thrilled to sign on as a sponsor of the Maine Apprenticeship Program," Witherspoon said. "MAP addresses our need for highly trained and skilled team members while also adding even more value to our team member's career path within Boyne Resorts."

The program is made possible by the Department of Labor's Maine Apprenticeship Program, which assists employers (referred to as sponsors) in setting up structured, yet flexible training programs designed to meet their specific workforce needs through on-the-job training and related classroom instruction.

MAP assists with sponsor-specific program development, identification of related instruction providers, federal registration, and pays up to 50% of the cost of classroom instruction.

At the event, John Butera, commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor, spoke about the state's workforce challenges and championed the Maine Apprenticeship Program as an ideal way to "gain, train and retain" Maine workers.

"I urge employers to explore the opportunities and success that apprenticeship can bring to your business," he said. "By participating in Maine's apprenticeship program, you are not only growing your workforce, but you are changing lives for the better by giving access to key skills. You are also ensuring that you have the skilled workers that you need, and in a 2.8% unemployment market, that is the most valuable commodity a business can have."

In addition to Witherspoon and Butera, stakeholders attending Thursday's ceremony included Joan Dolan, director of apprenticeships at Maine Department of Labor; Scott Knapp, president of Central Maine Community College; Dana Bullen, president of Sunday River Resort; Jim Largess, vice president of food and beverage at Sunday River Resort.

About Registered Apprenticeship

Courtesy / Southern Maine Community College
Courtesy / Southern Maine Community College
Food prepared by Southern Maine Community College's culinary arts students.

Registered Apprenticeship is a formal, industry-led, nationally recognized, workforce training program for employees that provides in-house skill development through structured on-the-job learning supplemented with technical and theoretical course work.

Through Registered Apprenticeship, sponsors can build a talent pipeline by upskilling their current workforce for the hard-to-fill positions, thus opening entry-level opportunities with a dedicated career path to job seekers from a much larger labor pool.

Current industry sponsors include health care, manufacturing, building trades, and more. Sunday River's program brings the total of current Registered Apprenticeship sponsors in Maine to 82.

About Maine Apprenticeship Program

Maine Apprenticeship Program assists employer sponsors in setting up structured, yet flexible, training programs designed to meet their specific workforce through on-the-job learning and related classroom instruction.

Apprenticeship programs can be sponsored by the business or organization, employer associations, trade groups, or labor/management groups that can hire and train in a working situation. Support from MAP includes assistance with sponsor-specific program development, identification of related instruction providers, federal registration, and pays up to 50% of the cost of classroom instruction.

In 2017, Maine Apprenticeship Program served 1,056 apprentices with estimated gross wages paid by employers of $36,272,038, at a total cost to taxpayers of $388,991; a ratio of $93.25 gross wages earned per $1 tax dollars spent.

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