Missoula College Meets Workforce Need in New Manufacturing Certificate

UM's Missoula College has partnered with a local manufacturer to provide classes and degree pathways to the firm's more than 120 employees. 

MISSOULA –  More than 120 local employees will have access to Missoula College classes and degree pathways in a new partnership between a local manufacturing firm and the two-year college, embedded within the University of Montana.

Missoula College has recently partnered with Elite One Source, a Missoula-headquartered manufacturing firm of dietary supplements and custom products. The workforce education partnership between the college and Elite One Source will provide a new certificate program  – ­Manufacturing Certificate of Technical Skills – to Elite employees, providing a path to earn a general associate of science degree or to eventually complete a bachelor’s degree through UM.

This partnership will provide flexible, credit-based workforce education for employees with an emphasis on building professional and workplace skills. Employees that work for Elite One Source can pursue coursework in manufacturing processes, technical skills, communication, career readiness, human relations and workplace safety.

The new certificate also is open to all employees in the manufacturing industry.

Missoula College Dean Tom Gallagher said the new certificate is an example of leveraging a local workforce economy into new innovative educational opportunities.

 “This manufacturing partnership is the first of its kind,” Gallagher said. “It is an innovative program and has been created based upon the needs of the employer.”

Gallagher said it’s critical to listen to local employers and find new opportunities for Missoula College and UM to partner in providing education and workforce training to meet industry demand.

 “In addition to developing new skills in manufacturing processes, employees will complete a block of coursework aimed at developing professional skills such as career readiness, interpersonal skills in the workplace and professional communication,” he said.

Elite One Source Director of Operations Alex Fowler said Missoula’s manufacturing presence is growing, along with the demand for frontline workers possessing the right combination of technical and professional skills.

“We feel that the existing gap in talent is the largest threat to our future growth plans,” he said. “Elite is delighted to collaborate with Missoula College to further the development of its associates in core manufacturing concepts and support further growth of the manufacturing sector in the greater Missoula area.”

Fowler said these new skills will equip their associates with the ability to make a significant impact to their operation.

“With a strong program that produces ready-to-work frontline industrial manufacturing associates, the Missoula manufacturing community should have a steady talent pipeline and can continue to satisfy customers for years to come,” he said.

 The new Missoula College curriculum has received support from the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center, which serves the manufacturers of Montana by helping them assess and improve their manufacturing operations, providing trainings and workforce development. 

 “Manufacturers across western Montana are telling us that attracting and retaining a skilled workforce is their top challenge right now,” said Steve Dybdal, MMEC business advisor. “This program will not only help Elite One in the short term, it may produce a model certificate program that can be replicated at other colleges around the state. This could result in major long-term benefits for other manufacturers and our statewide economy.”

For more information on the new partnership or to learn more about the Missoula College visit https://mc.umt.edu/.


Contact: Tom Gallagher, dean, Missoula College, 406-243- 7801, Tom.Gallagher@mso.umt.edu.