Workers wanted

HELENA, Mont. - An investment of $6 million to strengthen Montana’s works force and provide job training to Montanans was announced Friday.

The use of $2 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding was approved for the Individuals with Disabilities Employment Engagement Program, which augments the Department of Public Health and Human Services’ (DPHHS) Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services.

According to a release from the Office of the Governor, DPPHS VR provides services to individuals with disabilities to obtain, regain, maintain, and advance in employment, and around 1,300 individuals are on the program’s waitlist.

Existing VR staff will be supplemented with the addition of 10 temporary full-time rehabilitation councilors using the approved funding.

An additional $4 million in ARPA funds was also approved for the Department of Labor & Industry (DLI) to provide “rapid retraining” services and enroll Montanans in workforce training programs.

The funds will allow the department to utilize an existing state network of contracted workforce program providers to provide critical training, primarily for those who lost their jobs during the pandemic and need new skills to reenter the workforce the release said.

The funds will be used to conduct and support short-term skills training for Montanans including displaced workers such as those in Colstrip or St. Regis.

The $6 million funding recommendations from the ARPA Economic Transformation and Stabilization and Workforce Development Programs and Advisory Commission were accepted by Governor Greg Gianforte.

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