Houlton Pioneer Times

Future professionals are topic of Houlton Rotary discussion

HOULTON, Maine — An advocate and strong supporter of our local area, Josh McLaughlin, owner of J. McLaughlin Construction and president of Southern Aroostook Development Corporation shared information with the Houlton Rotary Club on a pilot project “Future Professionals of Aroostook.” 

McLaughlin met with members of the Houlton Rotary Club Monday, March 9. 

A collaboration between SADC and several businesses, the idea for this project began about a year and a half ago when a need in the local area was identified. As the workforce in Aroostook County ages and more and more younger people move out of the area, it is important for students in high school to know there are good jobs in this area and they don’t need to move away to find one of those jobs, according to McLaughlin.

Not having a younger workforce to take on jobs being vacated could create a big economic issue, McLaughlin said. The goal of Future Professionals of Aroostook is to be proactive and inform local students that there are good job opportunities in Aroostook County and they don’t have to move away. 

What makes this project unique is that it provides a mentorship program starting in eighth grade to expose students to jobs available in the area, as well as teach them skills needed in the business world.

The Mission Statement: “Future Professionals of Aroostook is a program created to help prepare young adults for the future workforce by teaching and enforcing core values, fostering relationships with local business professionals and organizations, and providing financial, educational, and career guidance” describes what this project is all about. 

This project kicked off recently and includes 12 students who were selected from area schools and 12 mentors from local businesses. An initial curriculum was developed after information was gathered from area employers on skills they are looking for in employees. 

The curriculum includes some activities that are done in a group and some that are done more individually with mentors. The eighth grade students will learn various skills over the course of three years with mentorship ongoing through high school and after. The roadmap of this program continues to be edited and adapted, as needed. 

“If young adults are exposed to opportunities early on, they can make more informed decisions about what is available in our area for job opportunities and what they may or may not want to do for a future career,” McLaughlin said.

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