AUBURN – A celebration was held Friday at Central Maine Community College (CMCC) to recognize the achievements of eight women who completed the welding program through the college’s Center for Workforce and Professional Development. The cohort is part of the Southern Maine Women’s Reentry Center in Windham and is building job skills in the pre-release program.
“These women have not always been afforded opportunities to advance,” said Corrine Bailey, Vocational Trades Instructor of Maine Corrections. “But they are not afraid to take on the challenge and try something new. They want to go to work and they want to change their lives.”
Nationally, gender stereotypes can also play a role in college corrections offerings. The Chronicle of Higher Education showed instances in Texas and Mississippi where women were offered less than half of the vocational programs offered to men. The Maine Department of Corrections, however, offers equal programming.
“This group accomplished more, and faster, than any other cohort we’ve held so far,” said Forrest Stone, Welding Instructor at CMCC. “The residents know each other and work so well together and are driven to succeed. Expanding these opportunities will only increase the quality of Maine’s workforce in the trades.”
Graduates completed 160 hours of hands-on training in MIG and TIG techniques. The four-week program also incorporated industry and employer engagement in the curriculum. The class visited Western Maine Steel in West Paris to learn about the company and view its full-service operations.
The Southern Maine Women’s Reentry Center is Maine’s only female reentry Center. Residents qualify when they have five years or less remaining on their sentence and are classified as minimum security. Women at the Center are able to work in the community during their incarceration. With the additional job skills and training, they can prepare for a new career in the next stage of their lives.