WILTON — Three adults walked into the CareerCenter minutes apart on Monday seeking assistance related to the unemployment, job training, skill upgrades and disadvantaged workers information that are among the services offered.

Patty Ladd, a manager at the Wilton center and the Rumford satellite office, helped one person while other staff assisted the two others.

She is among 14 employees of Western Maine Community Action who work at CareerCenters in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties who received conditional layoff notices on Oct. 1, effective Oct. 31. Four employees serve Wilton/Rumford centers, eight serve the Lewiston center and two work at the South Paris center.

The agency receives funds through the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Through the Maine CareerCenter system, it provides training for in-demand occupations to assist people with employment. Under the federal act, these centers provide an integrated array of services so workers, job-seekers and businesses can conveniently find the help they need under one roof in easy-to-reach locations, according to the agency’s website wmca.org.

Other entities in the state provide similar services at other centers.

Maine Department of Labor employees who work at the Wilton center did not receive layoff notices, according Laura Hudson, communications director for the Maine Department of Labor.


The Community Action agency provides a variety of services, including career counseling, case management, training and some support services such as child care at centers.

They work with businesses who share the skills needed for a job and try to match those needed skills to someone seeking a job either through the agency or through partner resources, Ladd said.

The CareerCenter is made up of many programs that share space in the buildings. 

“We partner with the Bureau of Employment Services, Bureau of Rehabilitation, and Bureau of Taxation,” Ladd said, which are part of the Department of Labor.

The layoffs are connected to Gov. Paul LePage’s rejection of more than $8 million from the U.S. Department of Labor under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

“The governor sought an alternative way of funding the WIOA Title 1B program in Maine,” Hudson wrote in an email. “Although he specifically requested the funding not be sent to the Maine Department of Labor, he was open to having the funding go directly to the workforce boards at the time the letter was written. Subsequent discussions with (U.S. Department of Labor) indicated that federal officials believe the federal law does not authorize (U.S. DOL) to bypass the state. The goal of the Governor was to eliminate a duplicative layer of administration and put more money into job training.”


There are three workforce development boards in the state and it has been reported the governor wants one board.

Maine’s goal remains reforming this federal system to eliminate 10 percent of funds paying for an extra layer of administration and to put more money into skill development that will lead people to high paying careers, Hudson wrote. Related, the 2018 budget for this funding suggests a 40 percent cut. These actions now are meant to attempt to reform the system before these potential cuts, she wrote.

“Most states our size (less than 1 million in workforce) operate the way our Governor is proposing we operate. We continue to try to get to yes with the U.S. DOL so that these funds can stay in Maine,” she wrote.

However, there is concern locally that if the state does not have the partners to share costs of the CareerCenter buildings, they will be closed and people will have to travel farther to get assistance.

“We all share costs of the building,” Ladd said.

Community Action agency shares the cost of the four centers, including 40 percent of the Wilton center, 100 percent of the Rumford space and pays for eight staff spaces, half of the information center and other costs associated with the Lewiston center, said James Trundy, the agency’s program manager for employment training program.


The agency has a freeze on enrollments and spending for customers.

“In anticipation of ‘not having funding’ we advised our customers this summer that we could do some payments for training activities but that we may not be able to pay support service costs such as travel or child care,” Trundy said.

“We have no plans to close the CareerCenter at this time,” Hudson said. “We may, however, try to adjust space and schedule to accommodate the lost capacity after Western Maine Community Action moves out. That remains to be seen,” Hudson wrote. “It is our intention and plan to continue providing services in Western Maine.”

Trundy said that not only do they provide services at the centers, they also work with adult education and subsidize some training.

The Wilton center serves about 25 people on average per day. Some people need more help than others, Pat Morse, who also works for Community Action, said.

“Some people come in with a scowl and leave with a smile. We’re here to help them and we do,” Morse said.


They also work closely with colleges and businesses.

“Businesses are our top priority because we need to make sure people are employed,” Ladd said.

They help colleges design the programs that businesses need.

They do all assessment of skills for Poland Spring Bottling Plant in Kingfield prior to an applicant getting hired, she said.

Adult education leaders in the state are also concerned about the loss of federal funding if a resolution is not reached on the funding between the state and federal government.

Glenn Kapiloff, director of the Franklin County Adult Education, said they work closely with the CareerCenter and the Department of Labor.


“We coordinate our efforts to ensure we reach those that need services,” he wrote in an email. “Patty Ladd has been instrumental in bringing local businesses to visit our programs and tour Foster (Career and Technical Education Center at Mt. Blue Campus in Farmington). We have given that tour the first Thursday of every month that school is in session for four years now. Many strong business and education partnerships have been formed.”

The loss of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funding will limit the number of students who can take certified nursing assistant, medical technician, certified resident medication aide, dental hygienist and QuickBooks classes.

“Some of these programs may not be able to run due to a loss of this funding,” Kapiloff wrote. “We have also worked with the CareerCenter to offer workforce development training in fields like HVAC, information technology and an industrial stitching class. The reason we develop these classes is to meet the needs of the local employers that are looking to hire more trained workers.”

These are programs that directly affect businesses and the local economy.

“We have some of the hardest workers in Maine right here in Franklin County. We just need to match the training and skills with the careers,” he wrote. 

“By the governor not accepting the (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) funds, we are encouraging businesses to move out of state and hire out-of-state workers. I think we can do better than that,” he said.


He believes they should keep it local and support Maine citizens.

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Patty Ladd, a manager at CareerCenters in Wilton and Rumford, left, talks with fellow staff member Pat Morse at the Wilton center on Monday. Ladd and Morse are among the 14 employees of Western Maine Community Action who received conditional layoff notices effective Tuesday, Oct. 31, connected to the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that provides job training funds.

Jobs are in jeopardy at CareerCenters in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, after 14 employees received conditional layoff notices on Sunday, Oct. 1, effective Tuesday, Oct. 31, over federal funding through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

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