Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Apprenticeships: Earn While You Learn and Grow Montana Workforce

Jackie Yamanaka

Governor Steve Bullock urged lawmakers to pass bills to help businesses grow and expand. He says one way to do that is give businesses an incentive to hire apprentices.

It’s an idea that has been embraced by both political parties.

Two years ago, a bill to give a tax credit for businesses that hire apprentices was sponsored by Representative Christy Clark, R-Choteau. That bill died in the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee.

Credit Legislative Services
Rep. Casey Schreiner, D-Great Falls

This time, Representative Casey Schreiner, D-Great Falls, is sponsoring a similar bill. Basically, House Bill 308 would give employers a $1,000 tax credit per apprenticeship if it is in program registered with the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. The amount would rise to $2,000 if that individual is a veteran. He says for some this method of learning a trade is a fast track to a career.

“When they graduate from high school this provides them an opportunity to learn a trade. And earn while they learn rather than get $50,000 in debt,” he said.

When asked if that’s meant as a criticism of higher education, Schreiner says no.

“It’s not a failure but it does provide another avenue for students around Montana,” said Schreiner.

Higher education does participate in some apprenticeship programs, added Governor Steve Bullock. He said it’s part of the collaboration between the private sector, the state, and higher education.

“Being able to earn while you learn,” he said. “The objective is not necessarily not a degree, but it’s those skills that employers need.”

Bullock and Schreiner spoke at a press conference to urge lawmakers to pass this and other bills aimed at economic development and jobs. This includes the Bullock Administration’s package of infrastructure bills. A joint appropriations subcommittee is expected to amend and vote on those bills Thursday.