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UMaine System Summit: Meeting Our Future Workforce Needs 

As the economy in our state changes over time, folks with the University of Maine System say they’re paying close attention. Tuesday, they held a summit in Orono focused on staying ahead of the changing needs of Maine’s workforce.”So if we have a STEM-driven economy, it’s going to absolutely be fueled by people with post-secondary degrees.”John Dorrer works for the Maine Department of Labor. As one of the presenters at the Advancing Maine summit, he talked about how to align education with our economy as it changes.”We need to make absolutely sure when students come out of here with a degree in whatever subject matter, they’re able to effectively navigate and negotiate the job market,” Dorrer says.To a room full of folks involved in both education and business, he presented data about what kinds of people employers say they’re looking for now.”We expect them not to have lots of supervision. We expect them to master the requirements of the job, perform independently, be resourceful and come forward, solve problems, think on their feet,” he says.Dorrer says along with educational and technical requirements, no matter the industry, many employers say they’re looking to hire multi-talented people with good communication skills.U-Maine System Chancellor Richard Pattenaude says it’s data from which he takes a few clear messages.”One is that multiple talents and interdisciplinary work is more important in the modern economy, particularly in the smaller organizations, smaller businesses, we have in Maine,” he says.Pattenaude tell us he’s pleased to see the importance of liberal education reaffirmed in the data, and says ongoing conversations like this are vital as the university system makes strategic decisions going forward.”We want to make good decisions on behalf of the people of Maine, so the more we talk to people, the more we listen, the better decisions we make,” he says.Dorrer says, on a hopeful note, his job market data is showing some signs of life as it starts a slow rebound.The day-long summit covered a variety of issues, including a focus on innovation. You can see some of the presentations given online, at: advancing.maine.edu.