Helena College gets new trades program to 'close the skills gap'
Helena College is home to a new trades program following a push from lawmakers and the governor last legislative session to boost career and technical training.
Gov. Greg Gianforte is wearing virtual reality goggles and standing on a virtual reality bucket lift designed to give students real-world experience operating machinery in a safe environment.
It’s the type of lesson the Finishing Trades Institute of the Upper Midwest will provide for students at its newest program housed at Helena College, which will soon start enrolling students. It offers specialties in painting, drywall finishing and glazing, among others.
It’s funded in part by $550,000 from the state’s budget allocated specifically to train more of the workers contractors need to complete building projects.
Gianforte signed several bills to boost trades work in Montana.
“We need to be investing to close the skills gap to help people become prepared for these jobs that allow them to earn a great living,” he says.
While the state’s unemployment rate has reached a record low, so has its labor force participation rate, meaning there’s a worker shortage.