Announced on June 3, 2021, “Remote Work for ME” is an initiative that aimed to provides rural Maine residents with free training so they can pursue remote work opportunities.
According to Maine Community College System, the Remote Work for Me courses begin in January 2022 and will train hundreds of rural students in remote work skills as the pandemic continues to shift the American job landscape. All training is free for participants, with scholarships available for computers, related software, and internet connectivity on an as-needed basis.
The free training program itself will prepare over 700 rural students for remote jobs over the next three years. Students living in rural areas of the state will be able to take six- to nine-month-long online courses in fields especially conducive to remote work, such as IT support, customer service and medical transcription. Participants will receive training and earn a certificate in remote work skills. The program will also offer a certificate course for supervisors on how to manage remote workers.
Demand for this kind of focused training is increasing as industry leaders shift to remote or hybrid schedules. The number of permanent remote workers is expected to double in 2021, according to a survey from Enterprise Technology Research.
Global Workplace Analytics also projects that 25% to 30% of the workforce will be working remotely multiple days a week by the end of 2021. Further, Global Workplace Analytics estimates that remote workers can save up to $4,000 per year due to lower food costs, fuel costs, parking and car maintenance. A typical employer can save about $11,000 a year for every employee who works remotely half of the time, the group said, due to lower cost of office space, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and less turnover.
A $535,000 grant from Ascendium Education Group to The Foundation for Maine’s Community Colleges is seeding a $1.2 million Remote Work for ME project at Maine’s community colleges that aimed to provides rural Maine residents with free training so they can pursue remote work opportunities. The grant is supplemented with $400,000 from the Maine Community College System, $208,000 from the Foundation and $75,000 from John T. Gorman Foundation.
The program and training materials were developed with input from major Maine employers, including Unum, L.L.Bean, Bangor Savings Bank, and MaineHealth, each of which adopted remote work schedules for large Maine-based workforces during the pandemic. As part of the program, MCCS is establishing the Maine Advisory Council on Remote Working with business leaders to provide ongoing guidance and feedback.