At Missoula College, state apprenticeships offer ‘earn-while-you-learn’ programs

Members of Missoula College and the Montana Department of Labor & Industry joined local business leaders in Missoula on Monday to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week – a state effort to grow Montana’s skilled workforce.

Galen Hollenbaugh, commissioner of the DOL, said the Montana Registered Apprenticeship program works with both union and non-union business sponsors across the state to implement tailor-made training programs in nearly 70 occupations.

Training consists of no less than one year of on-the-job training and not less than 144 hours of related college level coursework. Apprenticeship training teaches specific and technical job skills unique to the employer’s profession.

“Apprenticeships are a cornerstone to growing Montana’s economy,” said Hollenbaugh. “The men and women of our state are using this time-honored, work-based learning model to earn a paycheck while learning the skills needed for a successful career in their occupation.”

Working with Missoula College and local businesses, the Accounting Technology apprenticeship program launched this summer as a five-semester program. It combines classes from Missoula College with on-the-job training that pays employees as they learn.

Instead of going to college for two years and then entering the workforce, apprentices receive schooling while gaining experience in their chosen field. Upon completing their training program, apprentices receive a nationally recognized industry certificate from the Department of Labor & Industry.

They also earn an Associate of Science degree from Missoula College.

“The health insurance benefits industry is constantly changing,” said Allegiance Human Resources Manager Krystal Plantz. “Being able to train an employee with the hard and soft skills our business demands makes apprenticeships an important component of having a highly-skilled Allegiance workforce.”