Anne Arundel County Executive Robert A. Pascal, a Republican candidate for governor of Maryland, said yesterday that one of his first acts as governor would be to appoint a task force to retrain the state's laid-off and unemployed workers.

Pascal, who is challenging incumbent Gov. Harry Hughes, said he decided to hold a press conference on the issue after reading in a newspaper that the Hughes administration was not placing an emphasis on retraining job seekers. Pascal said the state should find out where job growth is expected to be in the coming years and train workers for those fields.

Brushing aside suggestions that many of the layoffs and unemployment problems in Maryland have been the result of the economic policies of his Republican party, Pascal said, "The time of pointing fingers is over. We have to get moving."

A spokesman for the governor said yesterday that the Hughes administration has a training program but has focused its efforts on stopping the loss of blue-collar jobs in the state -- about 42,000 manufacturing jobs have disappeared in the last decade. "What good is there in training laborers if there are not jobs for them to labor at?" said the spokesman, Lou Panos. "The emphasis is to develop an economic climate to increase the number of jobs."

Pascal and Hughes have both conducted polls in the last few months that show jobs to be one of the most important issues to Maryland voters.