SMCC, Portland Adult Education launch initiative to enhance workforce training opportunities for new Mainers

SMCC President Joe Cassidy and Portland Schools Superintendent Xavier Botana (front row) signed a memorandum of understanding at SMCC on Wednesday for the Building the Pipeline initiative between SMCC and Portland Adult Education. Back row from left are SMCC Vice President and Academic Dean Paul Charpentier, Portland Adult Education Executive Director Anita St. Onge, and Sally Sutton, Program Coordinator of PAE’s New Mainers Resource Center.

Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) and Portland Adult Education (PAE) have forged a new partnership to enhance workforce training and educational opportunities for new Mainers.

SMCC and PAE officials on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding for a new initiative called Building the Pipeline (BTP). BTP aims to improve the screening, testing, evaluation and prior learning assessment of immigrant populations in southern Maine to align more closely with workforce training and credential-awarding programs at SMCC.

“Building the Pipeline will help new Mainers plan their pathways toward the training and education they need to secure bright futures,” said SMCC President Joe Cassidy. “This initiative will allow us to improve the delivery of hands-on training to new Mainers, providing them with the skills that businesses are looking for to grow and prosper.”

Portland Adult Education typically serves about 4,000 adults each year, in academic and English Language Learner classes, as well as enrichment and job skills classes. Last year, 2,240 PAE students were new Mainers from 90 countries.

One of PAE’s programs, the New Mainers Resource Center, serves immigrants, refugees and employers in the Great Portland area, helping foreign-trained skilled professionals overcome the barriers they face as they pursue their professions in Maine.

“This new relationship with SMCC will allow the New Mainers Resource Center at PAE to enhance opportunities for our students by strengthening the pipeline from PAE to high-demand jobs in the Portland area,” said Portland Adult Education Executive Director Anita St. Onge.

Under the agreement, SMCC will provide work and classroom space at its South Portland Campus for Portland Adult Education operations that support Building the Pipeline.

PAE will promote SMCC training opportunities with PAE’s student body and alumni. For those new Mainers who are interested in SMCC workforce training classes, PAE will assess their professional backgrounds, credential evaluation (when applicable), English literacy, math levels and mechanical aptitude as needed.

PAE staff will also provide ongoing career and education advising services, remedial support for those who may need it, and workforce readiness and job-hunting training to students in SMCC workforce training classes.