Governor Gianforte Expands Work-Based Learning for Montana Students

Governor's Office
  • June 06 2023

HELENA, Mont. – Governor Greg Gianforte recently expanded work-based learning opportunities for Montana students, signing three bills into law to support schools in offering internships, apprenticeships, and Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.

“Student success and Montana’s future depend on classroom innovation and individualized and work-based learning,” Gov. Gianforte said. “We’ll continue to think outside of the box and push beyond the traditional brick and mortar to prepare students for their future and build a highly skilled, highly qualified workforce.”

Cut Bank High School Welding Demonstration

Gov. Gianforte observing a welding demonstration by students at Cut Bank High School

Advancing his pro-student, pro-parent, pro-teacher education agenda this legislative session, Gov. Gianforte delivered a series of wins which support classroom innovation.

First, the governor reformed the Advanced Opportunities Program to support schools in expanding work-based and personalized learning opportunities for students.

The Advanced Opportunities Program provides $4 million annually to schools for programs that advance students’ career and educational success.

House Bill 257, signed by the governor and sponsored by Rep. Courtenay Sprunger, R-Kalispell, doubles the amount of funding individual elementary, high school, and K-12 districts may receive through the program while increasing the percentage of funding that goes directly to students.

“The Advanced Opportunities Act is a win for students, families, and educators. With it, we will open the doors to greater opportunity for our kids, regardless of the next path they choose,” Gov. Gianforte said.

Rep. Sprunger added, “I was proud to carry the bill that builds on the last four years of success ensuring our school districts have the funding they need to prepare the next generation of Montanans. Look no further than the Flathead to see the benefit of CTE programs at work.”

Second, the governor signed House Bill 458, sponsored by Rep. Fred Anderson, R-Great Falls, to get career coaches into more Montana schools to support students in their educational and career endeavors.

“Career coaches help students obtain valuable, insightful experiences through internships, apprenticeships, and other work-based learning opportunities. I thank Rep. Anderson for his commitment to bringing more innovation to education,” Gov. Gianforte said.

Last month with the bill sponsor’s support, the governor returned the bill with amendments to eliminate a new and unnecessary state certification requirement for career coaches. The legislature adopted the governor’s amendments on May 1.

“Not all education is gained in a classroom environment. Expanding CTE programs and removing artificial barriers to career coaches in schools is critical to broadening opportunities for Montana’s high school students,” Rep. Anderson added.

Lastly, the governor signed House Bill 382, sponsored by Rep. Greg Oblander, R-Billings, to triple funding for Career and Technology Student Organizations (CTSO) in Montana.

The seven existing CTSOs in Montana, including Future Farmers of America and SkillsUSA, expand students’ access to workforce training programs, increase graduation rates, and facilitate students’ transitions to post-secondary education or employment.

Greater funding will support these organizations in serving more Montana students, including non-public and home school students. In addition to incentivizing CTSOs to strengthen their industry partnerships, the bill will also create internship and work-based learning opportunities and expand remote programming to rural communities.

Bill sponsor Rep. Oblander said, “I’ve talked with both students and leaders participating in CTSOs and have seen and heard first-hand the importance of making sure the next generation of Montanans have the resources they need to be successful in whatever career path they choose. I appreciate the opportunity to carry this bill for that very important reason.”

Last month, the governor also signed a bill into law to expand proficiency-based and individualized learning opportunities for Montana students.