November 3, 2016
An overview of the goal progress since the last BillingsWorks Workforce Council meeting was given at the October 25, 2016 meeting. This detailed report was handed out to attendees for their review.
Goal #1 Report: Collaboration
BillingsWorks Workforce Council Meetings
The previous workforce council meeting was held July 26th at the new Medicine Crow Middle School in the heights and was a great opportunity to learn about the various education efforts going on locally and statewide. Participants were able to tour the new school and facility. An overview of the information presented can be found here: http://www.billingsworks.org/billingsworks-workforce-council/
Council Meetings will continue to be held four times a year: three meetings, along with the State of the Workforce Event in April. Anyone in the community is welcome to attend these meetings.
The BillingsWorks Steering Committee has met seven times in 2016 and the next meeting is scheduled for November 15, 2016. Steering Committee members have contributed financially to support BillingsWorks, if you are interested in becoming a member, please contact Brittney Souza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 406-869-8416.
Please go to www.billingsworks.org and click on “upcoming events” for information regarding upcoming BillingsWorks meetings.
Montana Economic Developers Association (MEDA) Innovation Award
Governor Steve Bullock & MEDA Chair, Paul Tuss, presented the MEDA Innovation Award to BillingsWorks Director, Brittney Souza at the MEDA Annual Awards Luncheon last week in Polson.
This award recognizes an innovative project significantly impacting a Montana community and its citizens. The award recognizes participants involved in a Montana innovative economic development project and highlights best practices. Congratulations to BillingsWorks and all of the community partners on winning this prestigious award from our colleagues at MEDA.
A special thank you to Debbie Singer with NorthWestern Energy for submitting the nomination for BillingsWorks.
Collaboration of efforts:
Collaboration has been ongoing with many partners in Billings and around the State. Since July 26th, the last Workforce Council meeting and report update, meetings or collaboration have taken place with:
- The Governor’s Work Based Learning Committee
- State Workforce Innovation Board (SWIB) & meeting
- BillingsWorks successfully advocated for the board to hold their April/May meeting in Billings
- Billings Job Service
- Billings Job Service Community Management Team
- Billings Job Service Employers Council
- Coal Power Grant
- Healthcare Montana
- Manufacturing Day: Woods Power Grip, Spika Welding
- Missoula Chamber of Commerce
- Montana Department of Commerce
- Montana Department of Labor and Industry
- Montana High Tech Alliance
- Montana Office of Public Instruction
- Small Business Development Center
BillingsWorks representatives were asked to present at:
- The Governor’s Work Based Learning Symposium in Butte
- Montana Manufacturing Extension Center Compete Smart Conference
- Montana University System Board of Regents meeting in Billings
- Phillips 66 Advisory Council – Workforce Presentation
- Great Falls Development Authority – presentation on Talent Attraction
- Montana Department of Commerce Market Montana Symposium
- Innovate Montana Symposium
Goal #2 Report: Resources to Businesses
The HR Toolkit continues to be used as a resource to all programs at Big Sky Economic Development, and handed out at all presentations or trainings. Additional toolkit pieces are being developed that focus specifically on how to post job openings on Indeed.com.
The www.BillingsWorks.org website has been updated with several new features, of importance to goal #2 is the “Resources” page, which contains PDF documentation of the State of the Workforce Reports, HR Toolkit and other information for use by employers. This section will continue to grow with additional information relative to employers hiring needs.
Businesses continue to be referred to BillingsWorks for assistance with their workforce issues. The majority of these are small businesses who do not have a true HR Department, hire infrequently and in small numbers. Questions primarily revolve around where/how to post job openings, how to promote job openings and increase the number of applicants for positions. Of note, employers continue to report the highest rates of success using Indeed.com to post their job openings.
There is a continued trend of employers having a small number of open positions (one or two). Few employers are hiring in larger numbers and those in contact with BillingsWorks are currently working with staffing agencies.
Resources to Office Closing
BillingsWorks was able to provide resources to a company in Billings, who was a member investor of Big Sky Economic Development, and reached out regarding their office closing in Billings. BillingsWorks was able to make direct contact with 80 employees and offer assistance in connecting them with local resources, if they chose to stay in Billings. Of those contacted, 25 individuals returned communications and they were connected with area resources per their job interest and area of expertise.
BillingsWorks provided connections and resources to a local employer who was conducting a new type of recruiting event, bringing in a large group of potential job candidates at the same time. Follow-up data will be available about why the candidates chose to stay or reject job offers in Billings, which could help identify challenges in recruiting workers to Billings.
Goal #3 Report: Education
Board of Regents: RN to BSN Program
The Montana University System Board of Regents meeting took place in Billings on September 14th and 15th. BillingsWorks assisted with providing data to the Regents regarding the need for nurses in our area and coordinating support for the RN to BSN program, which was up for approval at MSU-B. The program was approved and represented a very positive step for MSU-B and our area employers who are in high need of nurses.
Work Based Learning and Apprenticeships
Work based learning and apprenticeships have been a growing focus of interest at the State of Montana and US Department of Labor. These include apprenticeships in both traditional and non-traditional careers and are seen as ways to solve many workforce issues. Several pilot projects are moving forward with our local education partners to support this effort. Working with City College and the Career Center, pilot programs are being established that would create pathways for students to receive credit for coursework done in high school, transition to a City College program and have a work based learning component. Areas of interest include: EMT, Pharm Tech, CNA, electrical, welding, construction and others. An important part of this program is working to credit several programs at the Career Center as pre-apprenticeships or as apprenticeship coursework credit.
Education Sub-Committee: Work and Learn Hub
Based on feedback from the BillingsWorks strategic planning done in May an Education Sub-Committee was formed with Dan Carter, ExxonMobile, as the Chair. The sub-committee has met four times with the goal to:
- Create innovative connections between schools/students/teachers, businesses and parents, that can scale across the entire school district (versus on a one-to-one classroom basis)
- These connections would encourage career exploration (job shadows, etc) and career pathway exploration, especially in high demand areas such as STEM and skilled trade areas.
- Target is middle school through high school.
Initial exploration around a technology solution for connecting students and businesses was put on hold at the last meeting, due to funding issues. Another project will be moving forward which will connect City College with high school counselors, to expand their knowledge of the programs offered at City College. Many of these programs provide careers with above average wages for Montana and are lacking in a pipeline of young workers. The efforts of the Committee were highlighted in a Billings Gazette article on August 26th.
In a major partnership between School District 2 and BillingsWorks/BigSky Economic Development, steps were taken to move recommendations from the Career and Technical Education Review into implementation. Two sessions were coordinated and facilitated by BillingsWorks. These sessions brought area businesses together with School District 2 Administrators, to gather support for start-up funding for a Career and Technical (CTE) Education Director. At this point over half of needed funding has been secured.
New Tech Hire Grant: America’s Promise
BillingsWorks was proud to be selected to participate with programs in Bozeman and Missoula for the State of Montana Tech Hire Grant to the Federal Government. While the grant was not selected for funding, the foundation work took a new direction with a unique partnership between City College-MSUB, Northern Wyoming Community College District, Laramie County Community College, Casper College and Sheridan College. This grant took the foundation of the Tech Hire program, which supported training in the IT field and applied for funding to re-train those affected by the energy industry downturn. The grant was submitted 8/24/2016 and the US Department of Labor will notify applicants in December of their funding decisions.
BillingsWorks continues to work in partnership with:
School District 2 (Billings Public Schools)
Rocky Mountain College
Billings Education Foundation: Educator for a Day
High School Connections at City College
City College Advisory Council
Montana Office of Public Instruction
Goal #4 Report: Talent Attraction Campaign
Talent Attraction Strategic Plan Progress
Talent Attraction efforts continue to move forward through the Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan is based around the following four foundations:
- Quality of Place: Current job seekers first choose where they would like to live and then look for jobs in those locations. Therefore, promoting Billings as a high quality of place is critical to talent attraction. Most Gen X and Millennials get their news and information online, so it is critical that Billings has a positive quality of place information online.
- Outdoor activities: An important sub-set of quality of place is outdoor activities, which are critical to attracting college graduates, Millennials and Gen-X. In the BillingsWorks MSU survey, of those who indicated they wanted to stay in Montana or the region 70% reported access to outdoor activities as the reason.
- Target Demographic: People are typically more mobile earlier in their career and become less mobile as are more established in a community. This is especially true for parents as their children progress in school. Gen-X and Millennial parents typically will not move once their children once reach Junior High (6th– 8th grade) or High School age. Therefore, it is important to recruit individuals in the early stages of their career, when they are more mobile, with the hope of retaining them so they become established in the Billings community.
- Recent College Graduates
- People who moved away from Montana and want to return
- People who are looking to move to Montana, typically for a “reason” (outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, skiing, etc)
- Importance of Peers: Gen-X and Millennials place a high value on peer evaluation and opinion. The rise of online reviews and websites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor are because of the emphasis these generations put on “authentic” feedback from their peers. This extends to quality of place, as positive evaluations about Billings from a peer will be seen as more authentic and believable.
Based on these foundations BillingsWorks has several targeted talent attraction programs which are in-progress:
BillingsWorks & NextGen Talent Attraction Committee
Based on the above foundations, a new committee was formed in partnership with BillingsWorks/Big Sky Economic Development and NextGen/Billings Chamber of Commerce. The committee is comprised of peers from the target demographic that will assist with talent attraction strategies such as:
- Recruiting at college career fairs: recent alumni of the University of Montana, Montana State University and University of Wyoming will attend and promote Billings as a quality place to live & work.
- College graduate entry level jobs from any business in Billings will be collected and promoted at the event.
- Digital Ambassadors: Individuals from the target demographic’s peer group will help create quality of place promotions that highlight Billing’s amenities and outdoor recreation (see below).
Quality of Place Promotion
To support the image of Billings as a high quality place to live, Digital Ambassadors will assist with the continued creation of social media campaigns including:
- Friday Five: A short video highlighting five unique attributes or amenities in Billings such as our microbreweries, restaurants, trails, etc.
- My Dream Career is Here: This promotion features individuals (peers) holding a “My Dream Career is Here” sign and a quote about why they love to live and work in Billings, Montana.
Outdoor Activities Promotion
As identified in the survey at Montana State University, access to outdoor activities is a major consideration for college graduates in determining where they want to live. The website ww.hikewildmontana.org and phone app All Trials, have been identified as ways to increase the promotion of outdoor activities in Billings. Each of these are widely used and promoted but have limited information about trails in Billings. The committee will work to expand the number of trails and information provided for the Billings area. Once complete, this information will be promoted on social media, targeted ads and www.yourdreamcareerishere.com.
Targeted Online Advertising
BillingsWorks is currently assessing bids for a targeted online advertising campaign based on the four foundations of quality of place, outdoor activities, targeted demographics and peer review. Based on these, ads will be created and targeted to drive traffic to www.yourdreamcareerishere.com for individuals in each demographic sub-sections. Through these efforts we will increase awareness of Billings as a high quality of place to live and provide resources for individuals to connect with employers for job opportunities.
July 26, 2016
The BillingsWorks Internship Portal has launched and is now accepting internships for Fall 2016. Internships are a key part of workforce training and retention, especially in Montana. When BillingsWorks attended the MSU Bozeman Career Fair attending students were surveyed about their plans after college. The results showed the #1 reason students did not think they could stay in Montana after college graduation was lack of job opportunities. Montana and our community exports far too many of our college graduates and internships are key to changing this trend.
Internships provide a direct link for students to job opportunities in our community. Even if the internship does not turn into a full time position, it widens the student’s network which makes it easier for them to become connected to other job openings. However the benefits for employers are more than just participating in training and talent retention. A survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that after five years, 62.4% of hires coming from an employer’s internship program were still with the company, compared to just 48.1% of hires who did not participate in the company’s internship program.
Committing to an internship can seem daunting when the daily tasks and duties of work don’t leave much time to supervising an intern. However we are here to help and make each step as easy as possible! Internships can be broken down into project-based or shorter term time frames to fit employers needs. As long as you are willing to be flexible and work around the student’s school schedule, we can work with you to create a great internship.
The Fall 2016 semester starts in less than one month, so contact us now to take the first step!
P.S. If you are ready to get an internship going and can’t wait – head here to post your internship and get started right away!
July 25, 2016
Education and Workforce was the theme of the July 26, 2016 BillingsWorks Workforce Council meeting, hosted at the new Medicine Crow Middle School in the Heights. The location was a great inspiration as speakers from the Montana University System, MSU Billings/City College and Billings Public Schools spoke on collaborative efforts to align education and workforce needs.
Work-Based Learning (WBL)
Kirk Lacy, Director of Industry Driven Workforce Development Partnerships spoke about the joint efforts of the Montana University System and the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, specifically their work based learning initiative. Montana was chosen by the National Governor’s Association to have a pilot program for work based learning (WBL) and has formed the Montana WBL Stakeholder Team to develop best practices and increase WBL opportunities. Several members of the BillingsWorks Workforce Council, including Brittney Souza and Scott Anderson, are members of the committee. Results from the team’s work will be featured at the upcoming event: “Beyond the Classroom: Building Montana’s 21st Century Workforce Symposium”.
High School Connections
While still in high school, the opportunities for students to choose career pathways and classes which earn college credit are expanding. Students taking dual credit classes or “High School Connections” has more than doubled in the last year, thanks in large part to Harold Olson, Director of Dual Enrollment at MSU Billings/City College. Dual credit classes are taught by high school teachers in the high school, but are approved for college level credit. This is different than University Connections, where high school students take college classes off-site from their high school. The High School Connections was the first program in Montana chosen to pilot a tuition free program and for the 2016-2017 school year students can take dual credit classes free of charge. This is a great advantage for our education and workforce efforts, to continue widening these opportunities to students in our area schools. After completing these classes, students can enter a 2 or 4 year college with significant savings of time and money towards achieving a degree or certification.
Career and Technical Education Review
Billings Public Schools recently went through an extensive review of their Career and Technical Education (CTE) program. A group of 10 local, regional and national level experts convened to provide an objective and comprehensive look at the current operational effectiveness of the CTE programs and to produce a report the district can utilize in planning for the future. BillingsWorks took part in the review and the summery of this report can be found here. Key findings from the report were: a need for continuity of CTE classes and programs across the district, better connections between business and education, and more defined career pathways for students. The school district is exploring ways to achieve the recommendations in the report and discussed these at the meeting.
BillingsWorks Education Sub-Committee: Work and Learn Hub
This committee was formed at the Steering Committee’s strategic planning session to focus on the “work and learn hub”, which is Strategy 3.4 under Goal 3: Aligning Education with Workforce Demand. Under the guidance of Chair Dan Carter, the committee has met twice and is actively working towards it’s goals:
- Create innovative connections between schools/students/teachers, businesses and parents, that can scale across the entire school district and community (versus on a one-to-one classroom basis)
- These connections would encourage career exploration (job shadows, etc) and career pathway exploration, especially in high demand areas such as STEM and skilled trade areas.
- Target demographic is middle school through high school students.
The committee is ready to move forward with a pilot project and is will be continuing to work on these details:
- Are there technology tools/options available that could help us achieve our goal of increasing the connections and scaling across the entire district?
- What businesses in our community are currently involved in school connections?
- What other businesses could we target to get involved in our efforts?
- What should be the “pilot” event?
The next meeting of this committee will be Tuesday, August 9th at 10:00am at the Big Sky Economic Development 2nd floor conference room.
Education and Workforce
When looking at what each of these programs can accomplish and how they can build upon one another, the results could be truly amazing. Functioning together they build a successful stairway for students: Starting in middle school students explore career pathways and job shadow activities with businesses. Moving to high school, students are prepared to plan school curriculum for their chosen career pathway and take dual credit classes. Upon graduation from high school, students would have earned dual credits that accelerate them through an apprenticeship, 2 year college degree, or 4 year college degree. Internships would finish training and retain them in our community. The result would be trained skilled workers who are retained in our community, fill needed jobs and have a high quality of life. BillingsWorks and our partners will continue to work in collaboration to make this vision reality in our community.
BillingsWorks Internship Portal
The BillingsWorks Internship portal is up and now accepting Internships for Fall 2016! If you have an internship opportunity email Brittney@bigskyeda.org for more information.
The BillingsWorks Workforce Council Meeting Agenda, BillingsWorks Work Plan and full PowerPoint Presentation can be found here:
BillingsWorks Workforce Council Meeting Agenda
BillingsWorks Work Plan 2016-17
BillingsWorks Workforce Council PowerPoint Presentation