Workforce Development Award Nomination Montana

Montana Workforce Development Award Nomination: Become an Alum

Contact Information of Individual Submitting Nomination

Nominator: Katie Vaughan

Email Address:

Agency Name: Montana Department of Labor & Industry



Become an Alum

120,000 Montanans have some college credit, but left school before completing a degree. Montana also faces a shortage of workers, especially skilled workers. To close the attainment gap, and build a trained workforce, Governor Bullock prioritized increasing the number of individuals with a degree, certificate or credential.

The Montana Department of Labor & Industry (MTDLI) partnered with the Montana University System to identify, contact and re-enroll individuals who left the University of Montana in the past 5 years without completing a degree or credential, and still reside in the area. Numerous methods of outreach were conducted. $50,000 was committed and over 1,200 staff hours were dedicated. 2 MTDLI staff were embedded on campuses. These staff are “one-stop” advisors for all re-enrollment processes. Local employers in high-demand, high-wage industries were engaged as partners, creating a seamless pipeline for the eventual graduates, so they are confident in local employment upon program completion.

Provide a statement of results, accomplishments, impacts, and any other appropriate information that demonstrates why the nominee's efforts described in question #1 were an exceptional contribution. Response (400 word limit).

Outreach to 885 former students began in the late spring of 2019. By the fall semester, 99 students were re-enrolled. 36 new participants have registered for the spring semester and over 70 are in the pipeline for future re-admission. Local labor market information is provided to students, so informed decision-making can occur. The University is also an economic engine for Missoula and Montana, strong enrollment supports the statewide economy. Additionally, advanced education virtually guarantees higher earnings.

MTDLI initially reached out to local employers to solicit their participation. 16 have made an ongoing commitment to participating in the program. By engaging local employers in this effort, a successful collaboration is occurring between UM, MTDLI and the business community. Employers are disclosing their workforce needs, the University is designing curricula around those requirements, and MTDLI is working with individuals to enroll in these high-demand programs. Employers are also using this as a tool for recruitment of new employees, and for training for their current workforce, providing them a program that allows for potential business growth in a constrained labor market. By bridging gaps between these groups, nimble course delivery is occurring and awareness and support of MTDLI and University programs is growing.

Provide a brief description of the nominee's significant contributions in any one of the other two areas listed under "criteria" that you did not focus on above. Response (400 word limit).

The program uses a creative, personal and proactive approach to assist students in getting back into the classroom. A survey was developed to identify the barriers that individuals identified to re-enrollment. From that, specialized cross-training was developed so embedded staff could provide the significant support and service integration to overcome obstacles that prevented initial completion. Staff provides directed advising, mentorship and guidance for students, as well as determines eligibility and assists in enlisting in various supportive job training and assistance programs. Students receive individual supports that are customized to their situation. Depending on need, students are also offered financial assistance and academic forgiveness programs.

Additionally, the University has adjusted course offerings and delivery to accommodate the requirement of re-enrollees and local employers. These students are all non-traditional and most are employed. They require flexible scheduling and accommodations to meet their situations.

Through this program, local employers are coordinating with MTDLI the University to offer specific credentials and programming that meet their unique business needs. The contribution of professional expertise and support from the local business leaders is increasing the understanding among students and the community of the value and relevance of attaining a degree, certificate or credential.


Examples of work 

MT - 010820 NASWA Award Submission BAA video path.pdf (11.9KB)
MT - 010820 NASWA Award Submission BAA website path.pdf (11.9KB))
MT - BecomeAnAlum-RackCard-Final.pdf (1.4MB)
MT - BecomeAnAlum-postcard_9x6-Final.pdf (1.5MB)
MT WD - Email Screen Shot.PDF (322.2KB)
MT - 010820 NASWA Award Submission Letter.pdf (117KB)