Thank you for publishing a recent commentary titled “Attention first-generation college students” (Sept. 16). This piece speaks to a critical sector of Maine’s future workforce: students who are the first in their families to attend college. As a business leader who has long advocated for increased educational opportunities for all Maine youth, I want to underscore to these first-generation students that Maine employers value you and want you to succeed. I am the first person in my family to attend college and I can tell you that I had lots of informal help and you all will find that Maine people are really helpful when it comes to this issue.

Maine businesses need a larger and better-skilled workforce to succeed and grow. Our state needs a competitive workforce that helps attract more employers to build a thriving, diverse business community in our state. First-generation students, some of whom are new to this country, are a critical part of our future workforce and Maine’s success.

This op-ed tells students, “You are a part of a community where the goal is your success.” Maine businesses are members of that community. Many of us are part of a large network called MaineSpark with the common goal of making sure that, by 2025, at least 60 percent of Mainers hold the kinds of credentials employers value.

One of the MaineSpark’s partners is Jobs for Maine’s Graduates, which has helped 50,000 kids graduate from high school and, in many cases, go on to college. It is the best program of its type and I had the great privilege chairing that organization a number of years ago. I recommend it highly.

We hope more first-generation Mainers pursue the path toward achieving higher education or credentials of value, and those already on this path stay the course.

Jon Doyle

partner, Doyle Nelson


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