GREAT FALLS — According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, Montana's unemployment rate is at 2.3% as of April 2022. As employers are continuing to search for workers, trade schools continue to be in high demand.
Among 20- to 29-year-olds who received a bachelor's degree in 2021, 74.8 percent were employed, up from 67.3 percent in 2020. These data reflect the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Job Service Great Falls manager Beth Schmidt stated, "Here locally, for our trades, entry level, general laborers, all the way to those highly skilled electricians, the plumbers, our pipe fitters, our welders, carpenters, they're all in demand. It is a busy time for all of the trade folks, and they are needing every person they can get their hands on to make sure schools are being built, housing is being built, that renovations are being made to existing properties."
Great Falls College-MSU Trades Division director Joel Sims said the number of students going into the trades is on the decline.
"Not much of an increase," Simms said. "There has actually been a decrease. When we first started, we had three different intakes that we were doing throughout the year, and now we're down to one intake that we are doing. We ended up losing a construction program on our trades, our renewable energy program has gone away."
Earlier this year, Great Falls College-MSU's welding test facility was recognized by the American Welding Society as an Accredited Test Facility after meeting minimum requirements for their personnel, equipment, and test facilities
"It's helped some," Sims said. "In order to keep that accreditation through the American Welding Society, you have to have high standards, so the quality has to be there, and we try to carry that quality over to our welding program. So I think it not only helps on that, but it's also helped local businesses in that if they need that service, we can offer that service and they don't have to travel to get it."
Job Service Great Falls said for those interested in trade schools, they would encourage those to come to their office located at 1018 7th Street South, or call 406-791-5800 and speak with a Workforce Consultant.
"We have a variety of programs like the Registered Apprenticeship Program, the APRA Rapid Retraining Program, Workforce Development and many others that assist you in getting the training needed to be the next skilled trades person for our local employers in need."
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