How Highlands College is Helping Fuel Butte’s Labor Force

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Butte has the best labor force in the west (if we do say so ourselves). And there’s no shortage of reasons why. But one reason stands out amongst the rest: its excellent colleges.  

We will focus on one in particular: Highlands College.

A picture of Highlands College campus in Butte. An elegant brick building rises above green lawns.

Highlands History

Highlands College is a small two-year college within the greater umbrella of the highly-ranked Montana Tech.

Montana Tech dates back to 1900 when it was founded as Montana State School of Mines with only one building and 21 students. They offered two degrees — mining engineering and electrical engineering (as a mining town, Butte had a single-minded focus).

An old paiting of the Montana School of Mines in Butte, MT. Brick buildings it atop a short hill.

Since then, Montana Tech has grown, to say the least, boasting three colleges and one school, serving thousands of students. Highlands College is one of those schools, its name dating back to 2012 (before it was simply Montana Tech’s two-year campus).

Highland’s home to 400 students, 36% of which are over the age of 25, and it’s is committed to bridging skilled labor and the local job market.

It offers associates degrees and certificates, allowing students to earn credits that may be transferred and put toward 4-year degrees at Montana Tech or one of the other excellent Montana universities.

 

Skilled Labor

But graduates of Highlands College may also choose to go straight into the workforce. Because Highlands focuses on hands-on learning, touting small class sizes and exceptional faculty and staff, graduates are highly-trained and ready to work from day one.

Our faculty are some of the best in the region bridging classroom teaching to real-world application,” Highland’s Dean, Dr. Dave Gurchiek, said. There are six departments within Highlands College: Associates of Science, Business and Accounting Technology, Department of General Studies, Health Programs, Network Technology and Trades and Technology.

Within these departments there both associates and certificates available, allowing students the flexibility of choosing between one and two-year programs.

Trades and Technology

The most popular department at Highland’s is its Trade and Tech school, with hands-on and job-oriented programs that consistently flood Butte with skilled laborers year after year.

A well-known program in the department is in aerospace welding. The program began in 2014, when Highlands partnered with the local manufacturer, SeaCast. Because Highlands worked and continues to work with SeaCast, which produces components for jet engines, to write the program’s curriculum, students have the exact skills they need to enter the welding field.

Beyond welding, students can study civil engineering, automotive tech, construction and carpentry, drafting tech, machining tech and others.

Every program graduates students with industry-specific certifications — so their breadth of knowledge matches employers expectations. Which is not only great for students but for the fast-growing trade industries within Montana and Butte itself.

With such a school serving the greater Butte community, the town’s talent pool will never go dry. Just one more reason Butte is great for business.

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