What we’re doing

Who we are

We are members of the Leadership Maine Tau class of 2011-12, convened by the Maine Development Foundation.

Leadership Maine Tau class

The Leadership Maine Tau class (2011-12)

For our final project, we formed four teams to focus on education, energy, quality of place, and health care in Maine.

What we’re doing

Our team, the Blue team, was charged with finding ways to help young people prepare for the high-demand jobs in Maine that are currently going unfilled due to lack of educational preparation.

We chose to focus on individuals rather than tweaking existing programs. We wondered:

  • Why are young people not choosing these high-demand occupations?
  • Do they know those openings exist?
  • Do they not yet know what they want to do for work?

We started with a theory: that young people who know what they love to do will be more likely to choose pathways that lead them toward careers that spark them. Indeed, we were inspired by the work of Peter Benson and the approach captured in his book, Sparks: How Parents Can Help Ignite the Hidden Strengths of Teenagers.

SparksIt makes intuitive sense that championing a person’s intrinsic passions — from early childhood to higher education and beyond — is a worthwhile investment in their future, and our own. This approach also supports the Maine Department of Education’s 2012 strategic plan supporting learner-centered education.

In addition, we theorized that if young people see and hear practitioners who love working in high-demand occupations — rather than just reading about them — they are more likely to pursue education and experience that will allow them to find satisfying work here in Maine, rather than have to move away.

Since it is impractical to bring adults from dozens of occupations to every career counseling session, we decided to prototype a website that could contain short videos — submitted by people in high-demand jobs all around Maine — sharing why they love what they do, and why they choose to do it here.

To identify high-demand jobs, we started with state government statistics and created a formula to select 5 occupations at each education level:

  • High school degree
  • Associate’s degree or certificate
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Higher degree

We then asked a person we each knew in one of those fields to share a brief story answering these three questions in one sentence each:

  • What is your occupation?
  • What do you love about it?
  • Why do you choose to do that work here in Maine?

Each team member recorded a 1-minute video clip to share on our prototype website. We also developed instructions so, in the future, anyone could share their spark via YouTube, and we could add them to our website, categorized by the interest areas developed by the U.S. Department of Labor.

By sharing a sneak peek into these fields from real people, our hypothesis is that a young person will be more engaged, and more likely to find satisfying work here in Maine.

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