Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The Pew Research Center recently released a survey stating that 40 percent of adults stated that a four-year college degree is no longer as important in order to get a good-paying job.

I reached out to the University of Montana Director of Strategic Communications Dave Kuntz about how that trend is affecting enrollment and success at Missoula College.

“Missoula College, which is the two-year college embedded within the University of Montana, has a campus on the west side of Missoula that is fully committed to Industrial Tech and the trades,” began Kuntz. “The programs they have at Missoula College include construction and technology, manufacturing, heavy machinery, welding, they do CDL and transportation courses out of there too, but really they're training a lot of the workers that are really driving the economy out of the Missoula College West Campus.”

Missoula College is Filling the Need for both Industries and Workers

Kuntz said Missoula College has drilled down to ensure that their two-year degrees can be the start of a financially successful career.

“Not only do they offer those two-year degrees in each of these programs, but they've also built, in recent years, some more short-term credentials to ensure that folks can get in and get the skills they need, and get out to fill some of these high demand jobs that we're seeing here in Montana,” he said. “Demand has been incredibly high, especially coming out of the pandemic, and that hasn't waned, so a lot of our courses in welding, diesel mechanics, sustainable construction, our CDL (Commercial Drivers License) courses have been largely full for the past three or four years.”

Graduating High School Seniors can Start Earning Good Wages Right Away

Kuntz said graduating high school seniors can get training to get them on the job site and earn good money immediately.

“In the summers, we run a course called ‘job site ready’ that's aimed at those high school and graduating high school age students who can come in and get 30 hours of training online, 15 hours of training in person, and have all the entry-level skills for any construction site here in western Montana, and they're getting hired at an immediate rate by a lot of our general and subcontractors across the state,” he said.

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Missoula College Creates Custom Programs for Businesses

In fact, Kuntz said Missoula College is creating custom training programs to meet the specific needs of area businesses.

“We have businesses that are coming to us with unique skills and unique jobs that they need to be filled at a high volume level, and then we build the curriculum specifically for those programs,” he said. “They might need specific training on a piece of machinery or a piece of equipment or some sort of project management software at a construction site. At Missoula College and our business development organization ‘Accelerate Montana’, we have the flexibility to be able to build those courses in a matter of weeks and then be able to take on those workers and train them on behalf of the employer.”

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