As residents of Gardiner, my wife and I would be delighted to experience the creations of Cony Area Technical Center culinary arts students’ food truck offerings, which we are hoping will soon expand from serving just students and staff to serving our wider community (“Culinary arts students at Augusta-based technical center learn by running school’s food trailer,” May 20).

This is such a great innovation! Creating a real-life food truck business for CATC culinary arts students as they are learning both their cooking craft and the operation side of Maine’s food service industry is a perfect blend of skills building.

Such hands-on training and experience are foundational to students’ later career successes — whether that be through an innovative program like this, pre-apprenticeships, apprenticeships, or internships. It is heartening to see the recent growth in such innovative programs across Maine in culinary arts, as well as other fields such as HVAC, aquaculture and automotive. Many of Maine’s pre-apprenticeship programs are aligned with the Maine Department of Labor standards, and create direct pathways for students into registered apprenticeships, where they can continue their experiential learning journey alongside professional mentors while being paid and working toward a certificate of value.

These types of programs and partnerships are a windfall to Maine industries in need of skilled workers, and help us achieve Maine’s education attainment goal that 60% of adults hold a credential of value by 2025.

Simon West

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