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December 14, 2018

Maine State Chamber launches work-based learning programs with $95K grant

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation selected the Maine State Chamber of Commerce to participate in its Career Readiness Lab, and receive $95,000 to implement a work-based learning program to better connect students with academic and experiential learning opportunities.

The Maine State Chamber was one of five state and local chambers selected across the country, according to a news release from the state chamber.

"We are excited to help connect students in rural, harder-to-reach areas of the state with innovative educational and learning opportunities," said Ben Gilman, president of the Maine State Chamber Education Foundation. "These new experiences will get more students interested in and prepared for the careers and jobs Maine's diverse employers are looking to fill."

The Career Readiness Lab will build a network of chambers dedicated to filling the talent gap through strategic programming that promotes leading work-based learning and employment practices, the news release said. Advised by national experts, participants of the program will establish sustainable, scalable models of work-based learning that can be replicated by chambers of commerce across the country.

The Maine State Chamber is taking its solution on the road, using a mobile remote training program to connect businesses with area students to bring skilled trades industry and hands-on education.

"With nearly 6 million young adults both out of school and work, there is a clear talent gap between the needs of the business community and how future talent is prepared for careers," said Cheryl Oldham, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber Foundation Center for Education and Workforce. "The U.S. Chamber Foundation has a rich history of building capacity for employers to meet their talent needs and expand economic opportunity. Through this work, we have identified one primary avenue for new forms of business engagement in career readiness: work-based learning."

The Career Readiness Lab will begin in January and conclude in the summer of 2020, at which point participants will report on best practices and lessons learned.

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