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Business leaders meet with Congressman Bruce Poliquin to discuss issues, solutions to worker shortage

Business leaders met with Congressman Bruce Poliquin Wednesday morning to discuss the worker shortage in the area.

FARMINGTON - Local business leaders from throughout the county met with Congressman Bruce Poliquin Tuesday morning to discuss the state's alarming gap between those seeking employment, and those offering it.

Representatives from Franklin Savings Bank, local Adult Education programs, the Chamber of Commerce, New Ventures, Franklin Health Network and more, gathered for a round table talk to look closer at the issue of filling the increasing number of open positions in their fields. For some, like Adult Education and New Ventures, the question is how to better prepare the people they see on a day to day basis to fit into those open positions, while for others such as Pete Roberts from Origin USA and Nathan Carrier of Carrier Welding, the question is how to find those people and how to offer a competitive working environment.

"You know what you need, not us. This is an all hands on deck situation, which includes Adult Ed, career training, the health care folks and the people in Augusta," Poliquin said to the crowd.

The group responded, sharing startling statistics and stories of their workplaces. Jason Holman of Jarden Plastics Solutions reported that he could easily fill 280 positions, as compared to the 250 already filled, if not for a lack of resumes.

"I'm not looking for anything more than a GED, and I can't fill these positions," he said.

Tania Dawson, Nurse Educator at Franklin Memorial Hospital, shared predictions of a serious nursing crisis in the state - the field would need to hire 700 nurses every year for the next ten years to replace those who are getting ready to retire.

"Fifty percent of our lab techs are going to retire in the next five years, and there is no program in the state to replace them," Dawson reported.

The country reflects a similar divide according to Poliquin, with 10 million able-bodied, working-age citizens out of work and seven million jobs to fill. Some of that divide comes from a fear of losing assistance from the government, Poliquin said: people who rely on food, housing or healthcare aid often don't want to reach the next bracket of earning for fear of losing those benefits.

"What we're trying to do is help people out of poverty. We want them to learn a skill and gain independence and freedom," Poliquin said.

Some issues discussed resulted in a close-to-home solution, with Poliquin sharing cell phone numbers of helpful connections, or jotting down questions to bring back to his office. Other concerns, such as losing employees to drug tests, or being able to offer competitive healthcare options, will require more time he said.

"It's a real issue, and I don't think there is a short term solution here. We look to better times ahead. Worker shortage is a good thing to have, much better than the opposite," he said.

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40 Responses »

  1. Here's a thought: Pay a living wage.

  2. When I was starting in the working field I got a small wage. I lived within my income and worked hard to get better wages. One of the issues today is that everyone wants all that is available without waiting to earn it. Kids leaving home want all the things their parents worked years for and the government is happy to give Obama phones and welfare that is hard to match with beginning wages. Once upon a time it was shameful to be on the town or state. Now it seems to be a banner of success.

  3. If people would get off the dole there would be plenty of workers to fill the jobs. Sounds like Jarden has some to offer.

  4. Marie, here’s a thought; pay more for your goods and services.

  5. Whats a" living wage" Marie? How much per hour do you require to live? Have you ever owned a business
    , paid all expenses required to keep it running so you can grow and keep employees? Not to mention feed house and cloth yourself and family. Pay all insurances required, taxes more taxes, etc etc. I bet jarden plastics and Being a nurse at FMH or any hospital pays a "living wage" . FSB does im sure.
    Mr poliquin made a great point i think. And ill bet truth be known alot of those people have neen living off of U.S. for some time and are just too laxy to actually WORK for a living...

  6. Hmmm, some dollars an hour starting wage vs. zero dollars and hour. Which wage is a better living.
    We have many that just don't want to, or need to, work.

  7. We have 2 positions avalible at Ron's Market. Fyi.

  8. Mr Poliquin may want to head up a skills for jobs campaign. Supporting the need to clarify which jobs are available, what skills, certifications, degrees may be needed, and helping connect qualified candidates with the employers that need them.

    Could he, or is very able office staff, let us know how many people are currently employed and receiving the generous benefits he describes?

    Could he also let us know how much of the historically huge corporate tax cut he helped get approved is being reinvested in workforce development in Maine?

    Or he could sit in a few meetings and talk about how the citizens he works for don't want to work at a higher wage.

  9. I see a lot of help wanted signs everyday, and alot of able bodied 20 somethings on welfare.

  10. Here is an idea * it's me *, each individual can do for themselves what you are asking someone else to do. It's called taking responsibility for ones life. " You mean I have to show up?, at the same time?, every work day? "
    What a concept.
    Getting a trophy for getting out of bed once in a while is not a job skill to list on a resume.

  11. I feel badly for Marie E. Everyone is bashing her but, here is a thought. Did anyone stop to consider that she might be referring to wage scales and the cost of living. Things have changed dramatically over the last 20 years. Employers now want a bachelors degree for $15 per hour while expenses are out of sight. Refer to the article "Commissioners Vote to Utilize New Salary Structure" and you will see a good example of this. Our probate judge salary is $32,000 and county treasure is $16,000 per year. This breaks down to $15.38 and $7.69 per hour or $615.38 and $307.69 before taxes per week. These individuals have a lot of responsibility but the pay scale does not reflect the responsibility or education required to preform the job.. The county treasurer must work 1 hour to purchase a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk. Rents are $500 a month and up without heat, electricity, or anything else. How can we expect people to support themselves and families on wages like this Politicians and big business keep the focus off them by keeping the lower income brackets fighting amongst themselves. Workers vs Welfare. I am a working individual but I feel we slam the welfare recipients unfairly. Some are abusing the system and that is wrong but, aren't businesses, particularly big business exploiting workers?

  12. When one thinks about how much state and federal funding is used for business, industrial, and corporate growth, there's nothing wrong in considering fellow citizens, too. Corporate welfare is good, but individual welfare isn't? Let's be realistic.

    And let's have a congressperson who isn't beholden to the special interests of the NRA like Poliquin is.

  13. billiejoebob: it is the job of government to guide workforce development. Rep. Poliquin is part of government, talking about millions of open jobs, and millions of available workers.

    My comments were directed towards the big picture of job identification and preparation.

    Our representative helped get a huge tax cut for industry, and the top 2 % of wage earners.....My question, since one of the talking points was about how the employers would be pouring their tax savings into the workforce, is simple: How much are employers pouring of this new found profit back into workforce development? Employee wages?

    Any idea how many fully employed individuals are being supported by SNAP? A HUGE number.

    Any idea how much it costs to be trained as a CNA? And what they get paid? How about to be a nurse? Training is not free.

    I did not offer any trophies for participating, just a request about how the new rules for the money flow game are applying to the players: Corporations, employees, and wannabe employees...

  14. Like someone said earlier, I think a big problem today is that everyone thinks that once they hit adulthood they are entitled to everything that (some) other people have - nice house, car, vacations etc.. What happened to starting low and working hard to get more? In my late teens and early 20's I couldn't afford a decent lifestyle with my 50 plus/minus hour work week. So I worked nights and EVERY weekend. I did not ask for the gov to give me anything. I slowly moved up the ladder and slowly got better pay and can now live fairly comfortably. It can happen but you have to be willing to put the time and work in!

  15. it's me, I certainly see your points. I look at things, governments role, differently than you. I am not saying you are incorrect, just that people now tend to over complicate things.
    A lot of small employers are only looking for people to show up, pay attention, learn a job and do it. At this point then you have experience, at something.
    Nurses, a CNA, like a teacher, they know what they are getting into when they sign on. Starting pay may not be the greatest. But like a lot of skilled jobs, you learn, hone your craft and as you do you are worth more. The field itself has potential to grow and expand.
    The part of my comment about the trophy was not directed at you, just at a whole bunch of the population that think just because they were born everybody owes them a CEO position. I have worked with many.
    I apologize for not better explaining/separating this.

  16. Hummm you are spot on. No incentive to work. Keep feeding them they never will go to work. Stop the feeding and when they get hungry enough they will.

  17. A few details as to income level for families on SNAP in Congressional District 1 :
    https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/ops/Maine.pdf

    Did you know that about 79% of families receiving SNAP benefits had one or two family members working, and about 29% of those receiving snap and two working?

    How about those over 60 years old? About 37% of families receiving SNAP benefits had one or more family members over the age of 60.....

    Yep, we gotta get these youngsters to work! They are bankrupting the country! Not.....

  18. One thing I noticed in the link was there was no stat for people/family in between the ages of 18 and 60.

    https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2017/08/young-adults.html

    I wonder how many mothers still do their 30 year olds laundry.

    It's all good, the cool clothes, the fancy electronic goodies, maybe a new car, until the kiddos move out on their own. Just not so good always having to pay rent, food, utilities, insurances. Hey, maybe they can get SNAP.

  19. A couple things to ponder:
    Have you ever had misdemeannor or felony?
    With no cut off time this is a life sentence of forcing unemployment or underemployment on a good percentage of the population. 30 - 40 year old items on the background check and they can't work, unless its cleaning a concert hall even when you have a degree.g

    Also insurance manipulation of the employment process thins out the possible workers. Forcing employees out because they have some medical issue even if they have worked there for 30 years and are still doing a fine job, in today's insurance controlled environment that person needs to go. If they have a limp on the way in to an interview they are scratched off the list.

    This is the realty today. You can try to deny it but its real life not some fantasy blame the poor people bologna.

  20. Limp? Misdemeanor or felony? So even with a college degree if you have even one of these issues you may as well except a life of poverty?
    I guess the Chesterville selectman in the other article better hope there isn't a conviction. She may never work again because there are not many concert halls in this area.

  21. @ proud veteran;I am not necessarily a Poliquin fan but what does the NRA have to do with this article.,He must support other interest more closely associated with employment.

  22. Cut the 'benefits', watch how fast they come out to work when they get hungry. How many young men are living with their girlfriends on section 8, playing house? I know more than a few.
    Yeah...'poor felons'...

  23. @ Taxed enough. He's one of the top-funded NRA congressmen in the country. That alone raises the specter of undue lobbyist influence to cloud Poliquin's judgment on everything from employment issues to gun responsibility to Russian gifts to the NRA in support of D J Trump.

    What happened to We the People in representatives like him?

  24. settling immigrants and refugees in our state could address a lot of the concerns around worker shortages, brain drain, and lack of growth. but i'm guessing mr. poliquin wouldn't consider this option.

    of course there's always plan b: pay workers competitive wages and benefits.

  25. Marie E I agree with you. I am 34 years old and all these businesses want to pay is $10.00-$11.00 an hour many times part-time. Put a child in daycare and drive to work you are left with nothing. I am now going for my Bachelor's degree because that's what is required now to make $15.00 an hour. Thankfully, I can stay home take care of my kids and work on obtaining my Bachelor's degree. Meanwhile, my husband pulls in 125 hours every two weeks so we can pay our bills and have a little left over. If a business would pay $20.00 an hour, I'd go back to work, but I haven't seen that, so I will keep plugging away at my Bachelor's degree, and perhaps start a business of my own. If you want employees to stay loyal and want to work for your organization you have to pay them more!

  26. Actually billyjoebob that is exactly what my comment means. The sooner the people in those circumstances accept that the sooner they can prepare for a solution. Starting your own business is one solution others give up and collect what they can where they can to get by.

  27. The welfare system is too comfortable. Take one of these jobs and if you can't make ends meet, you should qualify for fuel assistance or a EBT card. The State of Maine should be pushing some of the people receiving benefits to apply to these jobs, especially if the children are in school all day.

  28. @ProudVet.....you do realize that Democrats receive over 10 times the money from Planned Parenthood that the NRA donates, right?

    All the NRA is, is a citizens' rights group that people choose to blame for the behavior of none of its members, rather than the criminals who commit terrible acts.

  29. Jobs are evey where more than I have seen in years.Older workers are easier to get and retain .The young ones could care less not sure what they want even when they take a job the dont show up every day, want excessive smoke breaks and dont want to work hard. Seems the further you go north the worse it gets. Employers dont want a high minimun wage ,call it a starting wage trouble is thats where you start and theres where you stay, no where to go,most places wont give raises and will leave to rot on the low wage as long as they can, also jobs are advertised like minimun wage must work weekends and holidays , nights or any shift we say. Wow that sounds great! sign me up. There are a few good employers in the area but most careers anr gone for good. Sorry to say people just arent that interested in holding down a job you have to show up for . Thats just the way it is.

  30. Beggers can't be choosers!! All you capable and able bodied, sit at home and collect state money people, need to get out and find jobs - there are plenty of places hiring with no experience needed. Just ambition (which is the actual problem!!)

  31. "Maine’s minimum wage is set to go up to $10 an hour Jan. 1, even as Republican lawmakers push a proposal to slow future pay increases and allow young workers to be paid less.

    Supporters of minimum wage boosts say the measures have helped thousands of low-wage earners and predict any proposal to roll back wage gains will fail.

    More than 55 percent of voters in 2016 passed a referendum to increase the state minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020, through incremental annual wage raises, but there is lingering opposition to the law especially in economically struggling, rural parts of the state where annual wage increases may hurt small businesses.

    Although the state is experiencing historic low levels of unemployment, earnings vary considerably. Lower-paid workers, those in the bottom 25 percent of wage earners, earn a top wage of $9.44 per hour in Franklin County but $14.26 per hour in Sagahadoc County.

    https://www.pressherald.com/2017/12/31/minimum-wage-rising-to-10-hour-on-monday/

  32. When I started working full time at the age of 18 in 1980 at a local grocery store, they only paid minimum wage, which I believe was $3.35 per hour. BUT....they gave full health and dental benefits at no cost to the employee and it paid everything 100 percent after a five dollar co-pay. And many other jobs were the same way. Now most people working full-time can barely get by on the wage not to mention that insurance premiums and deductibles are unaffordable. A affordable benefit package would go a long way to getting people to accept jobs even if they are not high paying.

  33. Interesting article on the skills shortage being addressed to fill jobs.

    https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/2018/05/01/bnsfs-signing-bonuses-evidence-skills-shortage-not-job-shortage

    Is it possible to identify the jobs out there that need to be filled, and start a boot camp program for skills training/tuning? Industries could be encouraged to participate....after all with all of those new dollars kept from being taxed, being rolled into workforce development for job retention?

    Rep Poloquin, sir, what do you think? If North Texas can do it, can we?

  34. Its kind of funny how people blame everyone else for their problems instead of owning them. Whenever I have had a job that wasn't sufficient for my needs I moved on. Todays society wants something for nothing or their entitled. How about people start doing what needs to be done to succeed and stop blaming others for their shortcomings or ignorance to how things work. Nobody owes anyone anything you get what you WORK for. That's how this has always been and the sooner our society can grasp this idea the better we will be.

  35. @Becky the Governor tried inforcing the already stated "rules" for receiving benefits (seeking work or volunteering) but the snowflakes ❄️ started to melt and I'm not sure it has been implemented.

  36. It's not funny how some people lack basic compassion for those less fortunate than themselves.

    There are different versions of this: Don't judge; you may never know the burden someone else is carrying.

  37. its me - The bootcamps that you describe are exactly what the adult eds and Foster Tech are doing. Partnering with businesses, running a class, and then businesses have local people to hire.

  38. Marie E.......this liberal whining is getting tiresome. I'm 79 years old, retired, had two (2) jobs and earned everything I have. Should I choose to do so, it should be my decision to help the "less fortunate", not the governments.

  39. CMC: thank you for the information. I think it would be great if we could see the number of jobs by type that need filling. Folks soon to be entering, or reentering the job market would likely find the information useful as to what careers to pursue.

  40. Jesse, "Its kind of funny how people blame everyone else for their problems instead of owning them."..."Todays society wants something for nothing or their entitled." ..."Todays society wants something for nothing or their entitled."

    This seems like someone using sweeping generalizations blaming "other" people for ones problems... When you call people snowflakes or use the word society, I wonder if you realize this also means you and everyone else in our community? Stop playing the blame game and own it.

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