Maryland trade group gains state grant

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The Marine Trades Association of Maryland received a $141,000 state grant to help attract workers to the marine industry.

Some of the money from Maryland EARN, a work force and economic development grant program, will be used to pay about 12 summer interns who will work at participating marinas and boatyards.

MTAM executive director Susan Zellers has been visiting schools around the state to drum up interest among 18- to 24-year-olds.

"We suffer from what a lot of the trades suffer from, and that is that people aren't even considering or thinking of this kind of career," Zellers, whose organization is based at Port Annapolis Marina, told the Capital Gazette.

"There's no question we've got an aging work force in the marine industry," she said. "I'm guessing so do plumbers, electricians and carpenters who do all these kinds of things. We're not steering these people that way in our country."

Earlier this year, the MTAM surveyed the work force needs of more than 300 marine-related businesses in the Chesapeake Bay region. The study found an aging work force and a lack of people to fill leadership positions or work in electronics installation and marine engine mechanics.

Of 28 partnerships funded this year, three were awarded to applicants based in Anne Arundel County: the MTAM; the Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corp., which received nearly $367,000 to develop the state's cyber security industry; and Maryland Environmental Service in Millersville, which got $150,000 to develop career programs in the wastewater industry.

The EARN program tries to determine the employees that are needed and designs training programs to get people into those jobs. Some of the targeted industries have retention problems; others have aging work forces.

"It really varies, and that's OK because that's what the program is designed to do —respond directly to employers' needs," said Elisabeth Sachs, a senior adviser at the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

"We're only beginning to see [hiring] happen," Sachs said. "The ultimate goal is to get great people into employment and be prepared to be successful in those jobs because training was a focus."