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College in Butte helping meet need for skilled laborers

Posted at 2:36 PM, Oct 29, 2019

BUTTE - The workforce of trade laborers is aging and retiring quickly, and there’s need of new blood.

“We figure by the year 2025 we’ll need 14 million machinists,” said Tony Patrick, a department head at Highlands College in Butte.

Highlands College of Montana Tech in Butte recently received a $10,000 grant from the Gene Haas Foundation to pay for scholarships to get kids into it’s machining program to meet the demand for more skilled laborers.

“The industries starting to lose these highly skilled individuals so we’re now trying to gear up to meet those needs,” said Highlands College Dean David Gurchiek.

Two-year trade schools are appealing to students who don’t want the time and debt from traditional four-year schools. And more non-traditional and female students are enrolling in trade schools.

“I’ve actually been offered a couple jobs already when I’m done with school they said that they’d be able to hire me right away,” said student Bree Coon.

I have a four-year decree. I can quote Shakespeare, but I have no idea what this machine can do. But the students here at Highlands College are learning important manufacturing skills. Skills that can make them a lot of money.

“We’ve had people come in an tell us they are willing to start our guys pay up to $30 maybe $40 an hour,” said Patrick.