The City of Missoula has joined with the National League of Cities and the U.S. Department of Labor to help create new jobs in the building trades, specifically for low-income women who need housing and other support through the Good Jobs Great Cities Program.

KGVO News spoke with Missoula Mayor Jordan Hess about the partnership that will help expand workforce development.

Missoula Joins Labor Department to Develop Jobs for Women

“This is an exciting partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor and the National League of Cities really to support workforce development,” began Mayor Hess. “The concept here is just that we have a great gap in our trades, as we all know, and we have a  shortage of workers, particularly in emerging areas in the trades as we transition to new types of energy. We have new types of jobs, and we need folks to fill those jobs.”

Hess referenced the fact that there will be "historic infrastructure investment" estimated at over $650 billion nationwide over the next five years, and trained workers will be in demand even more than they are today.

Mayor Hess Says The Next Five Years Will Bring $650 billion in Infrastructure

“What we're looking to do is partner with Mountain Home Montana, and provide supportive employment opportunities for the single mothers, the young mothers that are in their program,” he said. “A lot of these mothers are low income or come from disadvantaged backgrounds and need a little bit of support getting into good careers. The trades are good jobs that pay well and we have a need here. And so this is our project. The uniqueness of it has probably had something to do with why we were selected.”

Hess said this will be a collaborative effort with the U.S. Department of Labor and other communities participating in the Good Jobs Great Cities project.

“We will be working with the Department of Labor to stand up this workforce development program in the coming months, but the exciting thing about the program is that we get technical assistance from the Department of Labor, we get to share knowledge with the other cities in the program and the U.S. Department of Labor,” he said. “The Secretary of Labor (Julie Su) was in the meeting, and her point was that as our economy changes nationwide, we're going to have to change and develop our workforce. And so this is an opportunity for cities to really pilot projects that then can scale for the rest of the country.”

Mayor Hess said the city has partnered with several organizations to ensure the success of the program.

Numerous Missoula Agencies Participating in the Program

“Right now we are working with the Missoula Economic Partnership, Missoula County, Mountain Home Montana, and Climate Smart Missoula, and we will be identifying who the other players are,” he said. “It could be apprenticeship programs through Missoula College or education opportunities through the University of Montana. We also can look at some of our major contractors and business partners, and that would be an option and would welcome those partnerships. And of course, there's a lot of apprenticeship programs through the trade unions, so we'll make sure that they have a seat at the table.”

According to Hess, current projections for Montana estimate 1,000 new openings per year for electricians, plumbers, construction supervisors, energy auditors, and weatherization contractors.

Find out more about the Good Jobs Great Cities program here.

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