One thing I hear consistently from the callers calling into our radio show, and from friends around town: we need more opportunities for trades education for our kids, every kid doesn't need to get a 4 year liberal arts degree.

On top of that, we know that there are good paying jobs available for kids right here in Montana, right after they complete high school- they may just need a little bit of education, or they may just need the awareness of the opportunities that exist.

That's why the news from the Montana Contractors Association and the Billings Schools is some exciting news. On February 1st, 2021 they're launching the inaugural class of the Build Montana program in the Billings Schools, and they eventually hope to take the program statewide.

According to the Montana Contractors Association:

The Billings program is sponsored by the Montana Contractors Association Education Foundation, in partnership with RDO Equipment Co. and Knife River Corporation and will be focused on construction equipment and how it is used in construction. This program will explore machine theory, jobsite safety, maintenance, machine operation, site development and the incorporation of machine guidance technology and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the construction process.  Learning will be aided using manufacturer approved online learning, hands on machine walk arounds and site visits for firsthand observation.  It is designed to build knowledge and understanding of the industry and careers available in Montana. Upon completion of the program, students will receive certification that can help qualify them for apprenticeship programs through construction employers.

If you have a kid who is a high school junior or senior and you want to get them involved in the program, you can click here to apply online. Or, you and your kids can attend an informational open house at RDO Equipment in Billings at 5221 Midland Road on Tuesday, January 19 and Wednesday, January 20 at 6:00pm..

Full audio of our chat with Adam Gilbertson and Bo Bruinsma:

 

RELATED from OCT 2019: Shop Class Has a New Meaning in Montana [AUDIO] |

 

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Every kid in Montana doesn't need to get a four-year liberal arts degree. We need more trades education in our high schools. We need skilled workers to fill all of the jobs that are available in the state. That's what I hear all across Montana.

Thanks to an idea that started in the school system in Conrad, Montana, an effort to get more trades education in our schools is being embraced by the Montana Equipment Dealers Association and is now launching statewide.

Recently on Montana Talks, our statewide radio talk show, we featured a live panel discussion from the Montana Equipment Dealers Association convention in Whitefish. The panel featured equipment dealers from across the state, along with Sharyl Allen, the former Superintendent of Schools in Conrad, who is now at the state Office of Public Instruction.

Here's the basic concept: we have employers who need skilled workers. We have young people who won't be going to college. So, why not get them started in a solid career right here in Montana?

Additionally, we may not have multi-million dollar "shops" in all of our schools, with a $500,000 machine to train on, but there's a shop down the street. So why can't these students train on those machines? It's about changing the entire way we think about "shop" class.

If you missed our live show from Whitefish, click below to listen to highlights as Montana Talks host Aaron Flint moderates the panel discussion from the Montana Equipment Dealers Association convention.