FAIRFIELD — The 400 employees of the contracting firm Cianbro will have the chance to earn academic credits for in-house training programs after the company signed agreements with three colleges on Tuesday.

Under the agreements, employees who participate in training programs for business, computer, accounting, leadership and management will be able to earn college credits from Kennebec Valley Community College, St. Joseph’s College in Standish and the University of Maine in Augusta.

“This will help to address the governor’s mission to meet skills gap shortages in the state of Maine,” said Brian Watson, manager of company’s workforce development program, during a formal signing in Fairfield.

The hope is that Cianbro employees will be able to more easily get two-year, four-year, and advanced business degrees without leaving the workforce.

Watson said that he expected that about a dozen employees at the Pittsfield-based company would take advantage of the increased access to education soon and that the program would grow.

Miranda Kinney, 25, an executive assistant at Cianbro, was taking classes while the program was being evaluated. She said that the traditional academic experience wasn’t working for her.

“I went to the University of Southern Maine for a year,” she said. “I didn’t like life as a full-time college student. I wanted to get into the workforce.”

Now, she said, she has been able to move toward a college degree while working.

“If I need time off to study, they’re great about that,” she said.

Faculty from the three institutions evaluated the training programs to ensure that the employees in them were learning the equivalent of courses that are offered at the colleges.

“It’s a way of recognizing the work that they’ve already done,” said Barbara Woodlee, president of Kennebec Valley Community College.

She hailed the program as a way to help area workers to get farther faster in their professional and academic goals.

“The importance of the collaboration is that students can move through the institutions without having to repeat courses or duplicate courses,” Woodlee said.


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