HELENA — Helena College recently expanded its trades education program with hopes of filling some of those positions with skilled workers.
In 2020, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry said Montana has over 5,000 job openings per year. One of the leading sectors was construction with 370 openings.
Helena College is furthering trades education with their new finishing trades program that focuses on skills like painting, drywall finishing, and glazing.
"The Finishing Trades Institute of the Upper Midwest and Helena College is a great example of that public-private partnership that can come together to serve our state and build our workforce," said Sandra Bauman, Helena College CEO and Dean.
The Finishing Trades Institute of the Upper Midwest and Helena College will be crafting a course load that combines the apprenticeship and coursework to obtain an associate degree.
Program leaders want to keep the courses tightly knit so students can get attention from instructors.
"In our first semester, it's a lot of health and safety and a lot of lectures. We will teach up to 25 at a time with a teacher, but when it comes to hands-on instruction, we have 8 to 1 ratios so students can get the attention they need," said John Burclaw, Director of Academy Education and Chief Administrative Officer for Finishing Trades Institute of the Upper Midwest.
At the program's announcement on Tuesday, Governor Greg Gianforte said this new program would help bring in more revenue to the state.
"We need to be investing to close the skills gap to help people become prepared for these jobs that allow for people to build a great living," said Gov. Gianforte.
Previously the institute gave apprentices the chance to be flown out to their campus but having a campus in Montana is exciting.
"We realized there's a lot of opportunities here and it makes far better sense to open up a campus here to serve our students but more importantly, serve the employers in the community," said Burclaw.
Classes for the finishing trades program will begin in April, More information about programs offered at Helena College can be found here.