Dan Belyea: Taking the lead on remote worker training

June 28, 2021

There’s a revolution underway at the office. Only it’s taking place in people’s home offices.

Remote workers have been so successful at working from home during the pandemic, that many are rejecting the idea of taking a job requiring them to put in 40 hours per week in an office.

Across the country, “office” workers have realized that many so-called “office” jobs can be done remotely by telecommuting. They are saving time and money by cutting out the daily commute. They report feeling more productive and having a better work/life balance. They see a future where they can pick where they live and stay in the communities that work best for them and their families. Barriers like housing costs, before- and after-school child care and transportation melt away.

The era of remote work has clearly arrived, even if the view is a little blurry around the edges.

Many employers like it too. For the right job, going to remote work lowers overhead and expands the pool of potential employees.

For people living in rural Maine, remote work represents an incredible opportunity — if they have the right training. That’s where Maine’s community colleges step in.

Under a new Remote Work for ME initiative announced this month, Maine’s community colleges are offering free online workforce training to rural Mainers. The training is for jobs particularly well-suited to remote work, such as medical transcription, IT support, customer service representatives, administrative assistants and many other jobs.

In addition to offering training for those remote worker jobs, the Remote Work for ME program will offer special training on how to be a successful remote worker. There are also scholarships available to pay for computers, software and internet connectivity on an as-needed basis.

The Remote Work for ME short-term workforce training courses begin in January 2022, as part of Maine Quality Centers at the community colleges. Most courses will take six to nine months. For a long time, Mainers have talked about wanting to live in rural parts of the state, but feeling economic pressure to move to more urban areas to improve their job prospects. Remote work eases that economic pressure. It also promises to deliver paychecks to people living across the state, revitalizing rural economies.It’s time people living in rural Maine had more economic choices. This program gives them the tools they need to be part of the remote work revolution. Dan Belyea is the chief workforce development officer for the Maine Community College System and oversees the Remote Work for ME project. Interested parties can learn more about the remote work classes by emailing him at [email protected] or going to www.mccsworks.com.