Montana sets example for other states by using data to drive workforce policy

August 09, 2018

Washington, DC / Helena, MT – Data-driven decision making is helping Montana create education and workforce policies that can help the state, its students, and its workers compete in a 21st century economy, according to a new case study entitled How Montana is using data to drive policy, recently released by the Workforce Data Quality Campaign and the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

Montana educational institutions, employers, and policymakers are using data from the statewide college report to make decisions that will help the state meet labor market demand and ensure that there are enough students graduating in the right fields to meet Montana’s current and future workforce needs. For instance:

  • Missoula College is considering developing new programs to train EMTs, paramedics, dental assistants, and preschool teachers because the report suggests these programs are undersupplied in the region.
  • Career counselors have changed their career guidance strategy. Instead of funneling students towards general studies, which had below average workforce outcomes, counselors are now helping students to identify careers with better employment outcomes.
  • Great Falls College has engaged in discussions with one of the state’s largest construction firms to create customized trainings in occupations that the report suggested for expansion.
  • Governor Bullock is using the report to support his focus on expanding work-based learning to improve student outcomes and help address the state’s worker shortage.

“Montana is on the cutting edge of implementing data-driven solutions that ensure businesses can meet workforce demands and students and employees have the skills to get good-paying jobs,” says Barbara Wagner, Chief Economist at Montana Department of Labor & Industry. “There is a large appetite for more information and we look forward to leaders from all stages of the workforce and education pipeline utilizing this report to benefit the future of our state.”

“Most states have the capacity to determine if they are training enough students for open jobs and to find out if graduates in their state are getting jobs,” says Jenna Leventoff of Workforce Data Quality Campaign. “But Montana is the only state that’s really using this data to make informed, targeted decisions about their education and workforce programs. Montana should be an inspiration for other states to take a good look at the data they’re already collecting, and use it to narrow the skills gap and ensure that people can find good jobs.”



Workforce Data Quality Campaign is a project of National Skills Coalition (NSC). NSC is a broad-based coalition of employers, unions, education and training providers, and public officials working toward a vision of an America that grows its economy by investing in its people so that every worker and every industry has the skills to compete and prosper.