The demand for technicians, carpenters, IT professionals, and more is growing, and so is the interest in those industries.
The nation added more than 24,000 new apprentices to the national apprenticeship system between October 2020 and September 2021. Over that same time frame, nearly 27,000 apprenticeship programs were active across the country — including in Montana.
Gov. Greg Gianforte last month announced that 515 apprentices in the first half of this year, "as we talk to employers across the state, the number one issue is [having a]trained workforce."
And that workforce development continues.
Gianforte was joined by the University of Montana President Seth Biidnar for a look at Missoula College's trade programs and the impact it's already having on its students. By using programs such as 'Accelerate Montana,' at Missoula College, the next workforce generation is getting trained up.
“It’s a good path, it’s a good career and it’s open to not just being in tech, but being in the office as well,” said Inna Bourdon-Higbee who is taking part in the Communication Resource apprenticeship program.
When COVID-19 caused Bourdon-Higbee to lose her job as a flight attendant, she decided to turn a new page in her book and became involved in communication resources. Now working as a technician, the apprenticeship program allowed her to find her new calling.
Sam Wolf — Missoula County’s only cyber security engineer — has a similar story about Missoula College’s 'Accelerate Montana' program.
“You know, you can go through a program like this and if you like it and if it’s for you, then you just continue your education and you go into work and get hands-on experience at work,” said Wolf.
It's an opportunity UM is taking advantage of as well, with Missoula College using 'Accelerate Montana' to propel its students forward.
“Providing those short-term training needs to help workers find fulfilling careers and actually help employers fill critical workforce needs,” Bodnar, told MTN News.
Gianforte says these types of programs will help give Montanans better-paying jobs and keep them in the state, "this is a statewide effort to build employer-specific workforce pipelines to help Montanans get into better-paying jobs."
MTN News asked the governor about the housing issues students may face when coming to Missoula for these programs.
The governor recently launched ahousing task forcewith hopes the committee will provide recommendations to making housing more affordable and attainable for Montanans.