Demand for short-term workforce training is at an all-time high at Maine’s community colleges, which saw a 300 percent increase in trainee graduates over the last two years.

That figure – 3,625 people trained in the fiscal year ending June 30 – doesn’t capture the students currently enrolled in new, free, online health care training programs.

“In the midst of a trying time, Maine’s community colleges are delivering on their promise to find new and creative ways to educate and train people so they’re prepared to step into good jobs right away,” Maine Community College System President David Daigler said.

When the coronavirus hit and waves of layoffs swept the state, the MCCS Maine Quality Centers added new, free, online training programs for in-demand jobs in the healthcare industry. The programs prepare graduates for jobs such as medical records technician, pharmacy technician, medical lab worker, and medical insurance specialist.

Of the 47 new healthcare training programs launched since the governor’s order, 36 are full. The training generally takes 5 to 12 months to complete.

The COVID safety training programs, developed in partnership with HospitalityMaine, are free, online courses that, according to the program, take just hours to complete. Workers in the tourism industry can earn badges in four areas: restaurant readiness, lodging readiness, stress management and de-escalation.

In addition to the COVID-related programs, Maine Quality Centers is re-introducing several traditional workforce programs that were suspended due to COVID-19. In July and August, classes began for a popular mechanized logging operations training program at Northern Maine Community College and a long-standing welding and manufacturing program at Southern Maine Community College. MQC has also launched a new manufacturing program to train up to 220 people for jobs at Puritan Medical Products’ new Pittsfield facility, which is ramping up production of nasal swabs used in coronavirus testing.