AUGUSTA — Rep. Scott Cuddy, D-Winterport, on Tuesday, March 8, presented legislation to increase financial support for the Maine Apprenticeship Program before the Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee.

As amended, LD 177 would allocate an additional $195,000 to the Maine Apprenticeship Program, specifically for training reimbursements. This would bring the total spent on training reimbursements to $200,000 per year.

“Apprenticeship is the best way to learn most any trade or profession,” Cuddy said. “The combination of class time with actual work experience is time-honored, especially here in Maine.”

The Maine Apprenticeship Program was first created in 1941 and is housed within the Maine Department of Labor. The program helps foster and gives credibility to apprenticeship opportunities in the state. Since then, the program has grown significantly. As of 2019, the program served 2,813 individuals, an increase of almost three times the number of apprentices who accessed the program a decade earlier.

Maine statute allows MDOL to reimburse sponsors up to 50% of the cost of classroom training. In recent years, the reimbursement rate rose to $1,200 per apprentice, per year. Based on increases in the number of sponsors requesting reimbursement and the available funding, reimbursements were reduced in 2019 to up to $500 per apprentice.

“Since this program’s founding, the state has made it clear that apprenticeship is a critical part of Maine’s economy,” Cuddy said. “It’s also a key factor in providing good career prospects for young Mainers. Funding apprenticeship training reimbursements at this rate demonstrates our continued commitment to a program that has served our communities for decades and that will propel us into a future that we can all be proud of.”

Cuddy, a member of the Labor and Housing Committee and the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, is serving his second term in the Maine House. He represents the communities of Frankfort, Searsport, Swanville and Winterport.