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Breaking news: Northern joins Miles City in initiative to train Bakken workers

Montana State University-Northern Chancellor Jim Limbaugh announced at a meeting at Bear Paw Development Corp. Friday morning that Havre's university is joining Miles Community College in Miles City in two separate actions that will work to tie into the oil development of the Bakken.

"The key here for Havre is the lead institutions are Northern and Miles City, because we've convinced them that geographically, culturally, historically, our two institutions are the ones that should be out in front," he said.

Limbaugh said at meetings with the university system this week an agreement was reached that Northern and Miles Community College would be the lead institutions to train people to work in and service the oilfields in the Bakken.

In a parallel but unrelated action, he said, he was told by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., Friday morning, that Northern and Miles Community also will be the lead agency is in Baucus' Eastern Montana Energy Workforce Development Initiative.

"I think it's a huge step for Northern," Northern's Director of University Outreach and Economic Development Tony Preite said at the meeting.

Recent estimates show there are around 18,000 jobs that need to be filled in the Bakken region, a release from Baucus' office said this morning. The initiative is designed to streamline, promote and focus on training Montanans in state so they can land energy related jobs in the Bakken region. Currently, many energy companies operating in Montana rely on workers trained at out-of-state facilities, the release added.

"This is truly a Montana solution for Montana jobs — there's no reason why energy companies and related industries should not be hiring workers trained and educated right here in the state," Baucus said. "This initiative sends the message far and wide that Montana is proactively working to rewrite the cycle of boom and bust," said Baucus. "I'm pleased to see our community colleges and our state's higher education system working together to answer our call to action in the Bakken."

The Eastern Montana Energy Workforce Development Initiative at-a-glance:

  • Goal: To create and support good-paying Montana jobs by educating energy industry workers and maximizing energy industry education to support Montana's energy boom in the Bakken region.
  • The initiative's first project is to execute a comprehensive study and produce a catalog of available educational resources at participating institutions.
  • In the initial phase, the study will aim to identify important educational needs that are of interest to energy company employers but not currently available.
  • To launch the initiative, $9,500 in funds from the 2010 2010 Montana Economic Development Summit will be used.

Watch for more in this story in Monday's edition of the Havre Daily News, and a series Wednesday through Friday on planning for potential effects of the Bakken in Havre and the Hi-Line.


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