MTPR

Montana Expects Decline In Qualified Workforce

Jan 19, 2016

There will soon be more job openings in Montana than qualified workers to fill those positions. State government and educational leaders briefed Missoula’s business community on Tuesday about the impending problem.

Neptune Aviation sponsored this week’s State of Missoula Address hosted by the Missoula Chamber of Commerce. CEO Ron Hooper told the audience that the local flight services company is already feeling the pinch of Montana’s shrinking workforce.

"In our growth over the last year we’ve had challenges filling positions particularly with our mechanics, with our pilots and with our administrative staff. We’re experiencing some of the challenges the business community is experiencing now and will going forward for several years," Hooper said.

He's talking about a lack of skilled labor. As baby boomers continue to retire, there will huge gaps in the workforce as their younger counterparts complete their education. Montana’s Labor and Industry Commissioner, Pam Bucy, says state government and educators are launching what she calls ‘unprecedented’ job training programs. She says apprenticeship programs will be key.

"Apprenticeship is the only way for a state as rural and huge as Montana to bring training to scale. We can’t just create whole new college programs. We need to make sure the ones we have are meeting your needs, but we need to be able to create regional, individualized training programs,” Bucy said.

About 300 people attended Tuesday’s State of Missoula Address.