UM Partners with Health Care Industry to Develop Apprenticeship Programs

MISSOULA – The University of Montana and Montana Department of Labor & Industry are partnering to become the state’s first apprenticeship intermediary.

Through UM’s Office of Health Research and Partnership, the University will collaborate with health care and public health-industry partners to create, launch and expand health-related apprenticeship programs.

“Using intermediaries like the University of Montana will help the department leverage resources that expand the apprenticeship program’s capacity to fill in-demand and highly skilled positions across Montana,” said Montana Registered Apprenticeship Director Glen Disque. “They will become an aggregation point for a number of employers to train the next generation of sorely needed health care professionals. The best part about it: The apprentices will be working full time in hospitals meeting critical workforce shortages while progressing through the program.”

Throughout the partnership, UM will handle the administrative requirements of a registered apprenticeship program, provide technical assistance to employers and offer the coursework components. This will allow employers to focus on developing a highly skilled workforce by providing the supervision and on-the-job training components of an apprenticeship program.

“Each and every new apprenticeship added in our state helps build Montana’s workforce and fill much needed gaps with highly skilled employees,” said Montana Department of Labor & Industry Commissioner Laurie Esau.

To launch the partnership, UM will start with three apprenticeship programs.

 “The three programs launching this summer will be in high-need areas in health care and public health and feature an accelerated training model with online instruction to ensure those in rural Montana can participate,” said Lily Apedaile, director of the UM Office of Health Research & Partnership.

The first apprenticeship program will be for community health workers and is part of the UM Community Health Workers Training Program being developed by the UM Center for Children, Families and Workforce Development.

“Community Health Workers are trusted front-line public health workers who have a close understanding of the communities they serve. CHWs can serve in direct service, community organizing and community capacity-building roles in a variety of settings across health care, public health, nonprofits and community-based organizations,” said Mackenzie Petersen, director of the UM CHW training program. “The CHWs that are trained in this program will work to address health equity and improve health outcomes for the communities they serve.”

The second apprenticeship program will be part of the Missoula College Medical Assisting program.

“The medical assistant apprenticeship program will increase access to a robust medical assisting program while allowing participants to stay and train in their community,” said Michelle Boller, Missoula College Medical Assisting program director. “This program has been adapted so that it is not only for adult learners but high schoolers as well, to help employers develop a workforce pipeline.”

The third apprenticeship program that will launch this summer is for integrated behavioral health managers. The goal of this program is to develop a behavioral health workforce for primary care settings that tackle the dire need for behavioral health services in the state.

“These three programs are a great starting point for piloting the apprenticeship intermediary model, and we see a lot of potential for expanding this model,” Apedaile said. “We plan to work with other industry partners to identify other health-related apprenticeship program needs, along with supporting high schools to establish health science pre-apprenticeship programs to create a comprehensive health care workforce pipeline.”


Contact: Lily Apedaile, director, UM Office of Health Research and Partnership, 406-243-7946,