Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Policy and Management (PPM)


Public Policy and Management

First Advisor

Terry Shehata, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Josephine LaPlante, Ph.D.


Maine, workforce, workforce development, economy, demographics


The underpinnings of what is broadly called workforce development have not changed since the late 19th Century. They are still concepts primarily concerned with optimizing workers for maximal output, while attempting to instruct business owners and managers in their workplace responsibilities – responsibilities to both their organizations and their workers. Today the term ‘workforce development’ particularly addresses access and barriers to employment and necessary supports; comprising aspects of demographic shift, ethnicity, income/wealth inequality and poverty, education and training, globalization and automation, immigration, housing, social services, primary/mental healthcare and physical/mental disability, substance use, and aging. The term has come to represent a set of widely varying technical prescriptions for the nation’s numerous economic, social, and educational ills.

In Maine, such ailments are made more acute by a shrinking population that is the oldest and most racially homogeneous in the U. S., and by dramatic shifts in the state’s traditional economy, which has been based on exploiting its natural resources. Mill industries for pulp, paper, textiles, and shoe manufacturing, small-boat fishing, working waterfront, and seafood processing have disappeared, along with prime-age men and women to work them; replaced by a dominant services sector populated largely by unskilled, low-wage labor. Thus, workforce development in Maine also represents a vital component of state and community economic development, in traditional manufacturing and growing service industries, and the onrushing knowledge economy. This paper attempts to contextualize workforce development historically and to define what Maine’s diverse human capital requires in order to be successful in a knowledge economy. It also attempts to suggest paths to Maine’s future prosperity through targeted workforce development that does not rely on prime-working-age individuals,



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