Governor's apprenticeship ratio proposal sparks concerns

ALEX SAKARIASSEN Montana Free Press

Citing the state’s ongoing workforce woes, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry has proposed an increase in the number of apprentices that can be assigned to a single supervisor in trade settings. Supporters view the change as a key component in meeting growing construction and infrastructure needs statewide, while skeptics question whether the strategy could pose a risk to educational quality and workplace safety.

The proposal, initially announced by DLI in September, would allow one journeyman — a licensed, fully educated tradesperson — to oversee the training and on-site work of two apprentices. Under current administrative rules, the prevailing requirement is two journeymen to one apprentice, a ratio DLI spokesperson Jessica Nelson described via email as “outdated” and out of alignment with ratios in neighboring states. Nelson said the proposal will “increase apprenticeship opportunities for workers and strengthen our workforce, particularly in needed sectors like construction.” She added that DLI is pursuing the change at the direction of Gov. Greg Gianforte.

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Gianforte touted the proposal in mid-November, tying the timing of the ratio change to Montana’s growing need for housing and

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