By Michael Heins
Montana State University-Northern Chancellor Mike Rao talked Thursday about some of the trends affecting the Havre institution during Bear Paw Development Inc.'s annual banquet.
"We have to compete with a global economy," Rao said. "Our country has gone from the Industrial age to the information age.
"The priority of education and employment has changed over the last 10 years. Most of the jobs that have come out... require communication skills. Employers want to hire people who are critical thinkers and can compete to succeed. Employers want employees who can take charge and think as a boss."
A good example Rao gave was U.S. Steel Corp. At one time the company employed 120,000 employees, but now U.S. Steel has only 20,000 workers and still produces the same amount of steel as it had before.
"The job now requires employees to manipulate the information about the steel," he said.
Rao said previous college students were looking to find a philosophy in life, but today's college students are looking for a better paying job.
"As roles change, colleges have to work more closely with the employers, side by side with the university," Rao said. "Graduates need to learn to be team players. The universities' role is to help prepare graduates to apply what they have learned. Employers today want people to pass on their information and experience to co-workers and future graduates."
Rao said employers are looking to hire people who can communicate and people that are willing to take risks and be part of a team.
"We don't encourage people to waste money," Rao said. "Montana has a wonderful vision for education and most people should at least strive for an AA degree. This will help strengthen our nation."
Rao questioned what MSU-Northern' role will be to attract companies in this area and what can the university do to stimulate economic growth for the Hi-Line.
"We need to generate jobs in our area to keep college graduates here," he said. "We are losing our Montana college graduates in the job market to other states. We need to stimulate the economy here to keep more graduates in Montana.
"Montana has a great work ethic and we are not standing still when it comes to education and preparing students for employment."