On Wednesday, the Montana Chamber testified at the ARPA Economic Transformation, Stabilization, and Workforce Development Advisory Commission in favor of allocating $6 million of State ARPA funds to the Montana Rapid Retraining Program (MRRP). The Commission voted unanimously to advance the proposal to Governor Gianforte.
The Montana Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Montana University System (MUS) and state agencies, proposed the MRRP to upskill Montana workers in industries where labor shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic are most pronounced.
In his testimony to the committee, Brock Tessman from the MUS said, “This is a great example of real partnership between the Public and Private sectors. It’s a real recipe for success.”
Over the next two years, the MRRP will identify and create up to 10 short-term occupational trainings designed by industry leaders and the MUS focused on Montana jobs that pay or provide a pathway to at least $50,000/year.
“Businesses need workers now, and employees stand to benefit from picking up transferable skills and enhanced professional development – all through programming achieved in weeks, not years,” said Bridger Mahlum, Government Relations Director for the Montana Chamber of Commerce. “The Montana Chamber will help identify businesses that will be totally engaged with the program, and we are confident these businesses will be able to sustain the program beyond this seed funding.”
The Montana Chamber will convene business and educators to develop industry-driven training curricula to fill workforce gaps. The Rapid Retraining Program is a true partnership designed to evolve with industry over time and offer “big company resources” for medium and small businesses across the state.
Ron Slinger, President of Miles Community College and Montana Chamber Board member, believes that colleges like Miles can help meet employer needs with this approach. “The Rapid Retraining Program is a first of its kind statewide collaboration for Montana,” he noted upon the MRRP’s approval. “Targeting short-term credentials in high-income areas of need perfectly aligns with Governor Gianforte’s economic recovery vision for Montana.”
Workforce readiness is a core pillar of Envision 2026 – the Montana Chamber’s 10-year strategic plan. The MRRP is designed to build and maintain a pipeline of employees to help Montana businesses meet the emerging needs of a qualified workforce.