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SKC apprenticeship program filling important need

Posted at 8:50 AM, Sep 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-06 10:50:36-04

PABLO – Montana Lieutenant Governor Mike Cooney was at Salish Kootenai College on Wednesday today to hear about their new apprenticeship program.

The Montana Department of Labor is seeing a spike in interest from employers statewide who want to open up apprenticeship positions within their business and they’re adding new trades to the list.

The Salish Kootenai College program is meeting a need for the community as well as for students.

“We’re seeing the needs of employers who are saying, ‘we don’t have qualified applicants,’ and applicants are saying, ‘we don’t have businesses who will take on our skills.’ So we’re really bridging that gap between the two, said Jimmie Rude with the Montana Department of Labor.

The Salish Kootenai College program received start-up money from the state in the 2016-2017 school year to begin an apprenticeship program and they shared their successes and struggles with Lt. Gov. Cooney (D-MT) on Wednesday.

“Apprenticeships have changed significantly in the last 20 years and its very interesting how many opportunities are available in apprenticeship, in areas that you wouldn’t think of as apprenticeable,” SKC president Dr. Sandra Boham commented.

She added they would like to continue developing more apprenticeship opportunities.

Emily Neader graduated from the EMT course and now works for Polson Ambulance.

“Probably the best part about it is you get to learn from the people that you work with. And, its just so hands-on, and even if I were to go somewhere else and work you still need that experience,” Neader said.

The college has focused their growth on fields they know the community needs workers for.

“The college has done a really good job of entering into this training program, working in both healthcare as well as the environmental field, the Hazmat field. So they are trying to fill a niche that has been identified in this area,” Lt. Gov. Cooney said.

The Montana Department of Labor is reporting an uptick in apprenticeship positions opening statewide with 600 added in the past year.

-Augusta McDonnell reporting for MTN News