Maine Aquaculture Apprenticeship Program

Creating leaders in Maine's aquaculture workforce.

This project aims to establish core aquaculture workforce training programs — identified as fundamental to sustainable growth of the industry in the Maine Aquaculture Workforce Development Strategy — to meet the current and future labor needs of Maine’s evolving industry.

Project Goals:

  • Develop and pilot a Maine Department of Labor Aquaculture Apprenticeship Program where participants will gain valuable experience, receive mentoring, and get trained and tested on defined occupational competencies.
  • Develop and administer a series of stackable, credentialed, aquaculture short courses at Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) that form the basis of an Aquaculture Certificate or Associates Degree.
  • Update the Maine Aquaculture Occupational Standards for Shellfish and Sea Vegetables, Recirculating Aquaculture Systems, and Marine Finfish to ensure that aquaculture workforce training remains relevant to Maine’s rapidly evolving and growing industry.
  • Coordinate program development and delivery between Community College, Career Technical Education SMCC, and ME DOL Apprenticeship to establish matriculation pathways and dual-credit programs that enable fast-tracked degree completion.

A workforce shortage in Maine's aquaculture industry has been an obstacle to growth for many businesses and could stunt the industry's tremendous growth potential. To address the workforce shortage, GMRI, The Maine Aquaculture Association, and Educate Maine partnered on The Maine Aquaculture Workforce Development Strategy — a forward-thinking strategic roadmap for Maine to achieve a cohesive and comprehensive workforce training pipeline that meets the needs of today’s industry and anticipates future workforce needs as the industry evolves and rationalizes.

The Strategy recommends a training system that leverages existing vocational-oriented partnership models between Community College, Career and Technical Education (CTE), and Maine Department of Labor Apprenticeship (Apprenticeship). The model caters broadly to the industry’s diverse and evolving needs by providing a foundation of transferable core skills that can be built on through higher-education programs. CC & CTE are well suited to develop aquaculture degree programs that teach the core technical skills drawing from existing programs. Further, low tuition costs make these programs accessible to a wide variety of socioeconomic groups.

Through a generous grant by the US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, GMRI is partnering with Southern Maine Community College, The Maine Aquaculture Association, Maine Department of Labor, and Educate Maine to create fundamental aquaculture workforce training programs including:

  • A series of industry-credentialed stackable aquaculture courses that build toward a certificate program and associates degree at Southern Maine Community College.
  • Updates to the Maine Aquaculture Occupational Standards developed by the Maine Aquaculture Association.
  • A ME Department of Labor certified Aquaculture Apprenticeship program where participants will gain valuable experience, receive mentoring, and get trained and tested on defined occupational competencies.

Applications for the 2024 apprenticeship program are closed.

Check back again in early 2025 to apply for our next cohort.

Maine Department of Labor Story

Read the Maine Department of Labor's story about the success of the apprenticeship's first year, which includes perspectives from the apprentices themselves!

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Read about the apprenticeship program, who should apply, requirements, and more!

Project Team

Project Sponsor

This project is generously supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Project Partners

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