Analyzes educational trends and employment outcomes of Montana college students and graduates from 2001 to 2015 to help policymakers and stakeholders develop policies and degree programs that respond to regional workforce needs. 

“The State of Montana is committed to producing a high quality workforce that meets the demands of employers. With [the] state anticipating a worker shortage in the upcoming years, and with the costs of education continuing to escalate, the Montana Department of Labor & Industry (MTDLI) and the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE) have joined forces to share data and create analytics that can be used by [the] state’s colleges to ensure that…workforce training systems are aligned with…economic needs. Utilizing this data will help students progress through educational programs and join the labor market quickly and efficiently, saving money for students, employers, and taxpayers” (p.5).

The report seeks to answer three key research questions: “(1) Do colleges produce enough graduates in the right programs to fill the types of jobs required by Montana employers? (2) Do graduates find jobs in Montana, thus helping to meet statewide worker demand? And (3) Does the geographical distribution of graduates match the distribution of worker demand in Montana?” (p.6). To answer these questions, “[t]he OCHE provided MTDLI with data on the graduates from the sixteen colleges that are included in the Montana University System data warehouse…from 2001 to 2015. Rocky Mountain College and Carroll College also agreed to participate in this report, providing data on their graduates over the same fifteen-year period” (p.6).

“The report is organized into five sections, with the first reviewing the demographic and program attendance information, answering the question `Who are Montana Students?’ The second section, `Graduate Workforce Outcomes,’ provides the employment and wage outcomes of graduates, including breakdowns by degree, program, geography, and industry. Continuing the evaluation, the third section, `Montana Supply and Demand Analysis,’ answers the primary research question of whether colleges are producing enough graduates in the right fields to meet statewide worker demand, with supply and demand analysis from four different perspectives. The wages by program are presented, providing helpful information for students choosing degree programs and businesses who are seeking workers. The fourth section looks at the geographical distribution of supply and demand, asking if employers throughout the state have enough workers to meet their demands. The fifth section concludes” with an overview of findings (p.6).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)