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Workforce Readiness

Montana 'Year to Career' Initiative to Create Microcredential Job Pathways

The Montana University System (MUS), in collaboration with Education Design Lab (EDL) and other stakeholders, has launched a new initiative to create 12 to 20 microcredential programs that can be completed within a year and allow learners to gain either an associate's degree or immediate employment in high-demand careers such as IT and other technology.

Twelve Montana colleges are currently being transformed over the next two years to become "engines of sustainable economic growth and regional talent suppliers," according to EDL.

EDL will provide the framework to design, implement, support, and leverage pathways to jobs with livable wages. The partners include Montana's Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE), MUS's Two Year Council, and others, such as Accelerate Montana, Rapid Retraining Program; Montana Economic Development Administration; Montana Department of Labor and Industry; Montana Department of Commerce; Montana Business Assistance Connection; and a host of higher education institutions across the state, as well as local organizations and tribal colleges and organizations.

The initiative builds on the Montana Future at Work initiative, funded by several sources, including the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, Walmart, the Charles Koch Foundation, and the Carnegie Foundation.

"As employers in a tight labor market, we need to change our thinking about finding 'an' employee to one of building a pipeline of future employees in Montana," said Brian Obert, Executive Director of the Montana Business Assistance Connection.

"Being able to work not just with the colleges, but also alongside innovative state leaders in Montana, marks a major milestone in our ability to create greater economic opportunity for learners in an increasingly skills-based ecosystem," said Bill Hughes, president and CEO of EDL. "We look forward to seeing how this work can scale and inspire other states to rethink how they are creating pathways from college to career."

Visit this EDL News page to learn more about this initiative.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.

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