The University of Montana publicly launched "Tech Skills for Tomorrow" this week. The presentation at the Missoula College campus was led by UM President Seth Bodnar and focused on partners who are helping develop education programs to address a growing need in the state and the nation. Among those already involved were Michael Punke, vice president of public policy for Amazon Web Services; Galen Hollenbaugh, commissioner of the Montana Department of Labor and Industry; Christina Henderson, executive director of the Montana High Tech Business Alliance, and Missoula Economic Partnership executive director Grant Kier.

Bodnar said, "To build the pipeline of talent that this state needs to grow, we not only need to have the right programs in place, we need to have strong partnerships with employers here in Montana and globally, as well as a diverse set of pathways for students to access learning." Christina Henderson noted that UM Bureau of Business and Economic Reserched showed high-tech jobs are in high demand and pay twice the median weage in the state. She said, "A shortage of skilled talent is the No. 1 barrier to growth cited by Montana high-tech and manufacturing companies for five consecutive years. This initiative marks a huge leap forward in taking action to address the workforce gap."