HELENA,MT (STL.News) Industry stakeholders, business owners, and education leaders today testified in support of Governor Greg Gianforte’s bill to expand trades education in Montana.
The measure, H.B. 252, helps address the growing skilled labor shortage in Montana by creating the Montana Trades Education Credit (M-TEC).
The bill, outlined in Governor Gianforte’s Roadmap to the Montana Comeback budget, provides $1 million per year in 50-percent credits to businesses for their employees to learn a trade. The funding level will support as many as 1,000 scholarships annually. Under the program, employers and employees can decide on training that is best for the business and the employee.
In his State of the State address on January 28, Gianforte said M-TEC will “strengthen our workforce, ensuring that Montana workers are well-equipped to succeed, thrive, and achieve the American dream.”
Before the House Taxation Committee this morning, many Montanans lined up to support the bill, which Rep. Llew Jones (R., HD-18) sponsors.
Julia Altemus, on behalf of Montana Wood Products Association: “One of the biggest challenges Montana’s forest products industry faces is recruiting a qualified workforce….Not unlike other industries that have come before you, we do face a workforce challenge….We certainly appreciate the governor and the sponsor for bringing the bill forward – we do think it will help.”
Daniel Brooks, director of business advocacy for Billings Chamber of Commerce: “We hear from our trades businesses the need for more emphasis on trades education and training….Providing for additional incentives and the flexible options for training that this bill provides is all the more important as we recover from a global pandemic.”
Dave Galt, on behalf of the Montana Petroleum Association: “We’re always looking for skilled craftsmen or tradesmen….We have a history in our industry of supporting the trades schools and universities, for that matter, across the state, and we encourage your support.”
Igan Graff, general contractor, on behalf of the Montana Building Industry Association and National Association of Home Builders Institute: “We are far from full employment in the construction industry….It’s a very competitive market.