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Building Maine's Future Workforce

The Impact of JA's Titan Experience

students on a computer

Image caption: Portland High School students participating in the 2023 JA Titan Challenge

In a time where workforce development is paramount, Maine faces the challenge of preparing its high school students for the ever-evolving demands of the job market.   

The surge of young teens entering Maine's workforce underlines the changing dynamics of our state’s employment landscape. This trend is not only a response to a competitive job market but also a testament to the determination and work ethic of Maine’s young population.  

For over a decade, I have witnessed firsthand the transformative impact of real-world programs like the Junior Achievement (JA) Titan Experience in shaping the future workforce. Today, I advocate for increased support to ensure Maine’s students are prepared for and excel in their professional journeys.   

JA Titan, a simulation-based experience, stands at the forefront of our efforts to bridge the gap between education and the business community. In participating classrooms across Maine, high school students engage as CEOs in the phone industry, navigating the intricacies of decision-making, financial analysis, and corporate responsibility.   

The emphasis of JA Titan on financial literacy and workforce insights makes it a cornerstone in preparing students for future careers. By engaging in decision-making processes across a variety of real-world variables, students learn the interconnectedness of choices within an organization and how these outcomes influence success.  

In our endeavor to build Maine’s future workforce, we confront a strong obstacle illuminated by the recent surge in chronic absenteeism among K-12 students. The stark reality that almost one-third of Maine’s students missed at least 18 school days last year raises concerns about their academic, social-emotional, and socioeconomic growth.  

This issue, compounded by the disruptive forces of the pandemic, demands our attention and collaborative efforts. Junior Achievement’s programs not only equip students with practical business insights but also serve as a channel to reengage disenchanted learners by combining our local business community with students and preparing them to be the workforce of tomorrow.  

Year after year, businesses and volunteer mentors return to the JA Titan Challenge because it aligns with their commitment to nurturing future leaders and strengthening the talent pipeline, setting the stage for an even more robust economy in our state. We are continually grateful for generous corporate sponsors like TC Energy, KeyBank, Machias Savings, IDEXX, and Tyler Technologies, that help us deliver a lasting impact on students.  

In discussing our upcoming competition, Tony DiSotto, Maine Market President, KeyBank and Market Leader, Key Private Bank, confirmed this beneficial connection to local business by stating, “KeyBank strongly supports initiatives that prepare individuals for thriving futures. Our focus on education and workforce development aligns with Junior Achievement’s mission to bridge the gap between classroom learning and real-world business challenges. We are proud to be part of JA Titan, fostering a community where students can excel.”  

Mentorship plays a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of students’ lives. The Titan Challenge creates a dynamic environment where students interact with industry professionals, gaining valuable insights into the skills sought by local employers.  

According to a recent Ipsos study, more than half (56%) of the students who have participated in Junior Achievement programs say they are currently in a job or have worked in a similar position to the one their JA volunteer had. 

  • Influencing their decisions about further education.
  • Impacting their professional and personal development.
  • Affecting their self-confidence and belief-in-self.
  • Motivating them to succeed professionally.

I often receive feedback from leaders that their workplace culture benefits tremendously from having their teams volunteer in classrooms; it fosters a sense of community and enhances employee engagement, positively impacting both the individual and the local communities they serve.  

I invite fellow advocates of education throughout Maine to volunteer with Junior Achievement, becoming role models who guide students toward success. We are currently registering mentors for our upcoming Titan Challenge, which will be held on April 4, 2024, at the following host sites: University of Maine, Presque Isle; Machias Savings Bank, Machias; Bangor Savings Bank, Bangor; Thomas College, Waterville; Tyler Technologies, Yarmouth; IDEXX, Westbrook; Systems Engineering, Portland; Dead River Company, South Portland.  

For more information on how to get involved, please visit or reach out to me directly:  

By preparing our students today, we ensure a robust talent pool that will drive economic growth and prosperity in the years to come. Let us unite in our commitment to building Maine’s future workforce through mentorship, education, and programs like JA Titan. 


McGuire, P. (2022, July 17). Teens surge into Maine’s workforce. Retrieved January 30, 2024, from 

Cohen, L. (2023, November 24). Maine students are missing more school days than before the pandemic. Retrieved January 30, 2024, from 

Junior Achievement (n.d.). Alumni Survey Report 2021-2022. Retrieved January 30, 2024, from 

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