Gov. Greg Gianforte visited Missoula on Friday to celebrate local apprenticeship programs in the trades.
The governor’s visit to Missoula marked the end of Apprenticeship Week in Montana. His administration continues to address the skilled labor shortage many employers are experiencing, he said.
“That’s why I wanted to come out and hear your stories directly. It’s really important that we connect the needs of the marketplace with our educational opportunities so that we create better outcomes for students and Montanans in general,” Gianforte said.
While in town, Gianforte visited Blackfoot Communications and Missoula College to meet with local business leaders about the impact apprenticeship programs have had on hiring high-quality candidates.
Andrea Bowman shared her experience in the inaugural cohort of Advanced Technology Group’s Aim Higher, a 12-week training program that guarantees participants a job interview upon completion. Prior to being in the program, Bowman worked as a CrossFit trainer with management and marketing degrees from the University of Montana.
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Now, she’s a software developer.
“It’s a really awesome career opportunity. It’s definitely a left-hand turn from what I thought I was going to do, but the training program opened up so many doors and basically gave me a career that I didn’t know was an option,” Bowman said.
Gianforte asked what the transition has meant in terms of her earning potential.
“A lot,” Bowman replied.
“The training program with ATG gave me a viable career option where I could be very successful in Missoula where I want to be,” Bowman continued. She is originally from Seattle.
University of Montana President Seth Bodnar added that one of the benefits of the university is that it brings “great minds” from across the country and globe to Montana.
“We have to enable people at different stages of their careers and help employers. I want every employee around the state to hear that we’re here to be your education and training partner,” Bodnar said.
At the roundtable discussion at the Missoula College, Gianforte announced that the state has hit a 14-year low for unemployment at 3.1%.
“But we still see a lot of 'help wanted' signs hanging around, particularly in skilled trades,” Gianforte said. “We decided with our administration that the only metric we use to assess the success of our administration is the number of new jobs created in the private sector in Montana over $50,000,” Gianforte said.
For calendar year 2021, Gianforte set a goal to create 10,000 jobs meeting that criteria. Within the first six months there were more than 5,000 jobs paying over $50,000 a year created in the state, he said.