Farmingdale, MAINE – During a visit to a community solar site in Farmingdale today, Governor Janet Mills declared this week, November 15-21, as National Apprenticeship Week in Maine and underscored the value of Maine’s apprenticeship program in strengthening Maine’s workforce.
The community solar site, which is under construction, is owned-and-operated by Nautilus Solar and built by Borrego Solar with E.S. Boulos, a long-time electrical contractor with headquarters in Westbrook, completing the electrical work.
Governor Mills speaks at a community solar site in Farmingdale owned-and-operated by Nautilus Solar and built by Borrego Solar.
E.S. Boulos is participating in a union apprenticeship program, which allows people ages 16 and up to learn new skills through on-the-job instruction led by employers and supplemented by traditional course work. The program, which is supported by the Maine Department of Labor, benefits employers by creating a pipeline of qualified and trained staff and benefits workers by providing them with new skills and a pathway to a good-paying job in a field of their choice. Additionally, the program is proven to reduce employee turnover and increase productivity, quality, and safety in the workplace.
“Apprenticeships are a win for our workers, our employers, and our economy, providing on-the-job training that results in a stable workforce, good-paying jobs, and a stronger, more diverse economy,” said Governor Janet Mills. “With employers looking for workers across Maine, apprenticeships are a great opportunity to get more people – especially younger folks – into new, exciting fields that can provide a good paycheck. I want to see more apprenticeships in Maine and more people entering these important trades.”
“Apprenticeship is an industry-driven, high-quality career pathway where employers can develop and prepare their future workforce, and individuals can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction, and a nationally recognized, portable credential,” said Laura Fortman, Commissioner of the Maine Department said. “In Maine, there are currently more than 1,100 registered apprentices and over 300 participating businesses. The apprenticeship program is one tool in our toolbox to get people where they would like to go in their careers and get employers the workforce that they need to thrive.”
During the visit, the Governor heard firsthand about E.S. Boulos’ union apprenticeship program and participated in a walkthrough of the site where workers, including electrician apprentices, are wiring solar panels. E.S. Boulos employs apprentices and journey workers from IBEW 567 and IBEW 1253.
“We are proud to be a supporter of Apprenticeship Programs on this community solar project as well as our other sites in Maine,” said Sean Reaney, Director of Operations for Nautilus Solar Energy, LLC. “Community solar provides a direct benefit to the local Maine economy through the creation of new job opportunities while bringing access to clean, solar electricity to thousands of Mainers.”
“E. S. Boulos Company has been a signatory contractor with the IBEW for over one hundred years and is also a member of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). Together NECA and the IBEW have been providing both on-the job training and structured classroom learning to electricians through the National Joint Apprentice and Training Committee (NJATC) for many years,” said Tom Driscoll, Strategic Planning Executive, E.S Boulos Company. “At E. S. Boulos Company, we employ an average of 300 IBEW electricians, and we feel that our apprenticeship program is second to none in supplying our needs for fully trained journeymen and journey women electricians for the industry. In Maine we have training facilities in Lewiston for Local 567 and in Newport for local 1253. The program is continually upgraded by the NJATC to meet the changing industry needs.”
“Registered apprenticeship is a tried-and-true method to ensure that workers earn while they learn and that we develop a highly skilled, local workforce for jobs that exist. Apprentices learn a skilled trade, land a good union job and develop a solid career without incurring debt. As Maine builds a clean energy economy and tackles climate change, it is more important than ever that we ensure those are good quality jobs with strong apprenticeship opportunities. We applaud Governor Mills and the Legislature’s strategic investment in registered apprenticeship in the Maine Jobs and Recovery plan legislation,” said Matt Schlobohm, Executive Director of the Maine AFL-CIO.
“The apprenticeship has been invaluable in my experience as it is a straightforward, incredibly affordable, and rewarding path to a stable career that can transfer to several fields and niches in every part of the world,” said apprentice Rose Elliot. “The skills that you obtain in this field will always be valuable no matter what the future brings, and it has been a huge asset in my life.”
Apprenticeships are available across multiple fields of work, from health care to construction to clean energy, providing new, valuable skills and pipelines to good-paying jobs.
Renewable energy fields, like wind and solar, are some of the fastest growing sectors in the nation and apprenticeships are a key component of Maine’s effort to meet the Governor’s goal to more than doubling the clean energy jobs in Maine to more than 30,000 by 2030. The Governor’s Energy Office released Strengthening Maine’s Clean Energy Economy in 2021 which unveiled detailed strategies for expanding Maine’s clean economy workforce, supporting innovation, and training opportunities in renewable power generation and energy efficiency.
Earlier this month, Governor Mills unveiled a new Clean Energy Partnership initiative backed by $5.5 million from the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan to provide career training opportunities, like apprenticeships, that will equip Maine people with the skills to fill good-paying jobs in Maine’s growing clean energy sector.
“Maine’s investments in clean energy and energy efficiency are providing local renewable energy, reducing costs, and combatting climate change,” said Dan Burgess, Director of the Governor’s Energy Office. “These efforts also bring significant economic opportunity to our state and we need to have the necessary skilled workforce so that Maine people can enter into and thrive in the clean energy sector.”
Get more information on National Apprenticeship Week and events happening in Maine and around the country.
Get more information on Maine’s apprenticeship program.
Employers who think apprenticeship could be a good fit for their business should reach out to their local CareerCenter by email at MaineAtWork.DOL@maine.gov, by phone at 207-623-7981, or through our LiveChat feature at MaineCareerCenter.gov.
The Governor’s proclamation can be read here (PDF).