From the sawmill to college to a job

When Fraser Timber laid off nearly 200 sawmill workers in Aroostook County, Maine in January, 2009, Northern Maine Community College (NMCC) had started its second semester. But laid-off workers didn’t have to wait. The college started job-training classes in mid-semester, using federal funding for displaced workers, reports Community College Times.

Two years later,  Tanya Clark, who lost her job as a grader at the mill, has earned an associate degree in medical assisting and is interviewing for jobs.

After giving up on college, Guthrey York, 28, worked at the mill for seven years. He’s now graduated with a degree in electrical construction and maintenance — and a job offer.

“At first, I wasn’t sure about going back to school. I never really had been into school much. It took me out of my comfort zone. But, after the first month or so, I really got into it,” York said. 

Other former mill workers have earned degrees in plumbing and heating, residential construction, business administration and accounting.

The sawmill called back some workers, but many of those in college decided to pursue new carers. Richard Michaud, 42, thinks his medical assisting degree will provide a more secure job than the sawmill.