AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Maine has 50,000 people out of work -- 20,000 collecting unemployment. But in parts of the state.. and in certain businesses... there are jobs going unfilled. People in business and government blame it on what they call the job skills gap .
Every expert we talk with agrees that Maine doesn't have enough jobs. But the job skills gap is real, and for some kinds of businesses, it's a real problem. It's also a problem for people who are looking for work... especially people in their thirties, forties and older, who may not be able to find jobs because they're on the wrong side of that gap.
Managers and business owners in the metal trades have been complaining for years that they can't find enough trained workers to fill the jobs they have. And despite the recession, some other kinds of manufacturers also have that problem. Health care has a constant need for trained people, too. Businesses have complained to the state about it, and Maine Labor Commissioner Jeanne Paquette told us the skills gap is a real problem.
"It's because of the aging workforce that we're experiencing and the fact that we in our system have not adequately trained people for these jobs that are highly skilled jobs like manufacturing," Paquette told NEWS CENTER. " And I think you have to look yes there are people unemployed. Do they have the skills for the jobs in demand? That's our biggest challenge. And that's what we want to focus on is connecting those people with the jobs in demand.
There's a lot of attention being given right now to the skills gap issue. State government, the community colleges and the University --- and the businesses that need workers now. There are also critics, of course, who say there would be more willing workers if businesses paid more.