One of the major challenges for businesses in Billings is a talented, trained and available workforce for the open jobs in our growing community. With an unemployment rate that ranges between 2.6% and 3.2% business are asking: Where do our qualified workers come from? Does Yellowstone County have what it needs to attract the best and brightest? How do we make sure our education and training is preparing our students for the right jobs?
BillingsWorks was founded to address these issues, which were brought forth from an active business community that saw a need to act. In the spring of 2013 Big Sky Economic Development convened over 150 business and community leaders to the first Workforce Forum. During the forum and many subsequent conversations Big Sky Economic Development, MSU Billings/City College, Montana Department of Labor, Billings Job Service and the Billings Chamber of Commerce agreed to bring business leaders from all fronts together on a regular basis to discuss how to address the current workforce challenges as well as the challenges on the horizon. This group was named BillingsWorks.
Since then BillingsWorks has grown to include School District #2, Career Center and Adult Education, Rocky Mountain College, City of Billings, Yellowstone County, Billings Job Service, Montana Departments of Labor and Commerce and 80+ private industry partners. This group has been meeting for over two years and has studied the community’s workforce through forums, focus groups, employer surveys, strategic planning and stakeholder events. Through this work a “State of the Workforce Report” was released in March of 2014 and four strategic goals were created. Each goal has a corresponding committee which meets to do focused work on those issues.
In order to move these Goals to action, in September of 2015 a Director was hired and Billings became the first community in the State to have dedicated workforce development professional. BillingsWorks is committed to this initiative for the long term and we are anxious to move forward with additional resources.
If you would like to learn more or become involved in a committee, please call or email Karen Baumgart, Director of BillingWorks, at 406-869-8416 or firstname.lastname@example.org.