Over 100 people were present last Thursday at the official kickoff of Project Login, the product of a year-long partnership between educators and local businesses with the goal of increasing interest and job placement in the fields of computer science and information technology here in Maine. The event, held at the University of Southern Maine’s Glickman Library, was attended by business leaders, educators, administrators from the University of Maine System, students and interns.
The need for IT and Computer Science professionals is at an all-time high in the state, with more available positions in those fields than Maine companies are able to fill. As a result, some of Maine’s largest companies have been forced to look out of state to fill positions.
“Unfortunately, some of our large companies are going to have to start exporting jobs outside of Maine because we just don’t have enough people,” said Lance Berberian, CIO of IDEXX, a company that provides diagnostic and information technology solutions for animal health and water and milk quality around the globe. “We had 40 job openings for IT people last year and could only fill 20 in Maine. That means that 20 potential students who could have graduated and joined IDEXX in very high-paying, fun jobs couldn’t because we didn’t have the talent, and it’s the same for all the big companies in Maine.”
Michael Dubyak, CEO of WEX, a financial and information solutions company based in South Portland, said that the idea for Project Login began when he contacted other local business leaders in the area. “Over two years ago, I reached out to the other CEOs and got them together for a breakfast, and we said that there’s a call to action in the state to create more jobs.” After consulting with their respective HR departments, each company found that its number one hiring need over the next five years was in the computer and information science sector.
To meet this need, the group of business leaders began working with USM, which had about 12 graduating computer science degree students at the time. “We started to work with USM, and we asked, ‘How can we work with you to see if we can get more students coming out?’” Dubyak said.
Then, when former UMS Chancellor Richard Pattenaude found out what the group was doing, he suggested that the program be made systemwide with the goal of doubling the number of IT and computer science graduates over the next four years. At that point, the group of business leaders began working with Educate Maine, “and they became the backbone organization,” said Dubyak, who was asked to chair the project.
Now there are over seven teams of people working on Project Login to launch marketing programs, create and update the website and increase paid internships.
Maine currently has the greatest median age of all U.S. states, as more and more young adults leave in search of employment in other states.
“I believe that the reason most young people leave is because there are opportunities elsewhere and there are not equivalent opportunities here,” said UMS Chancellor James Page.
He believes that Project Login will provide students who pursue work within the fields of IT and computer science opportunities in Maine equivalent to those found in other states.
“We’re the oldest state in the nation, age-wise, and we need young folks to stay here or it’s not going to be a pretty economic picture in the future.”
For more information on Project Login, visit their Facebook page or find them at www.projectlogin.com.