Weekly Maine.gov Labor Day Message by MDOL Commissioner Robert Winglass

Posted on September 1, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Listen here.

Hello Mainers, this is Commissioner Bob Winglass of the Department of Labor. Today sitting in for Governor Paul LePage.

It has been my pleasure – my sincere pleasure – to serve Governor LePage during the past year and a half. Although I look forward to my upcoming retirement, I’d like to reflect momentarily upon the challenges facing our workforce and the steps we need to take to grow Maine’s economy and ensure that everyone has meaningful employment.

Now as Commissioner, I’ve traveled the state, meeting with loggers, lobstermen and women, shipbuilders, hospitality workers, teachers, machinists, farmers, and construction workers, just to name a few. These people keep our industries and our economy humming. I’m proud of the work that all of these employed Mainers do. They imagine, they create, they sell and they inspire all of us in public service world to work harder to make their work easier.

Now our economy has presented some hurdles. There’s no question about that. Unemployment remains too high. The Department of Labor has strived to lower our unemployment rate while nonetheless maintaining the integrity of our Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. A solvent and strong fund enabled this state to avoid the need to borrow federal funds to pay unemployment benefits. Keeping business costs down means more money can be invested in people and equipment.

Lowering the unemployment rate means putting people back to work. Growing our economy and letting the private sector create jobs is certainly the best way. This administration has overseen a steady increase in the number of private sector jobs. As our economy strengthens as a result of other reforms – such as tax, workers’ compensation, welfare and other programs—businesses will create even more jobs. But that’s still not enough.

Many businesses, like manufacturing, have jobs to fill but they cannot find enough skilled workers. We need to train more people for the jobs that are in demand right now. This month, the Department of Labor will submit a proposal to restructure Maine’s workforce investment system, cutting administrative overhead by an estimated eight hundred-thousand dollars. These savings that will be redirected to workforce development and training.

We’re training more women, for example, in non-traditional occupations – jobs that pay better with better benefits. We’re strengthening our services to veterans, helping them convert military experience into civilian employment. We’ve energized vocational training efforts for citizens with disabilities – certainly a worthy undertaking. Such programs enable Mainers to provide a better life for their families and instill the pride that comes with a paycheck.

The Department of Labor has a talented team of technical, dedicated people who effectively serve members of the workforce and employers. I have been honored to serve as their Commissioner, and I wish them all continued success as they continue their service to the men and women of the Maine workforce. These men and women provide the drive, the determination, and the skills that will keep our economy growing.

Have a wonderful Labor Day. You’ve earned it!

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