BOZEMAN — On July 19th, Governor Greg Gianforte announced Montana’s Registered Apprenticeship Program was making significant progress toward creating new apprentices in Montana.
Promoting apprenticeships and trade education are the goals of Gianforte’s Montana Comeback Plan. And now nearly half of all job growth over the next ten years will be from apprenticeship occupations.
Lane Norsworthy has been an apprentice at Williams Plumbing and heating in Bozeman for about three and a half years and is almost finished. Norsworthy says Gianforte’s new program is a win-win, giving workers and employees the tools to grow.
“I love construction,” said Norsworthy. “The more people the better. Things run smoother and there’s more competition.”
The new rules of Governor Gianforte’s program allow more apprentices to work under the supervision of a trained journeyman. This gives employers like Williams Plumbing and Heating in Bozeman the opportunity to add more apprentices to their programs.
So far, the program has added 515 new apprentices and 41 new employer sponsors, including Williams Plumbing and Heating.
The company's CEO, Quin Williams says the company only had 35 available apprentice positions prior to the program. Now, Williams Plumbing and Heating has 200 available positions.
“That allows us to gear up our learning and development, and train more apprentices,” said Williams.
After adding 19 new apprentices to the company, Williams Plumbing and Heating now has 51 apprentices. Learning and development manager, Amanda Barker says they are looking to add more.
“This was a very big jump,” says Barker. “We have a lot of applicants that want to get in.”
Williams says it’s important to increase apprentice opportunities in Montana and educate people that trade school is a great choice. He says that one year after graduation, the average wage for tradesmen is twice that of degree holders from other institutions.
“There’s such a bad reputation when there shouldn’t be,” said Williams.
Quin hopes to change that reputation.
My goal is to change the perception and get some excitement in some of these younger generations,” said Williams. “We need them.“