By Andi Bourne

Rose Receives Governor's Award


Andi Bourne, Pathfinder

Erik Rose with his wife Tomoko, son Noah and four-month-old baby girl Claire.

SEELEY LAKE – Erik Rose, 2006 graduate of Seeley-Swan High School, was one of the recipients for the 2016 Governor's Award for Excellence in Performance for his work on the project entitled "Labor Market Outcomes for Missoula College." Rose was a data analyst on the project with the Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE) and Montana Department of Labor & Industry (DLI).

Rose has been the Montana compliance and workforce data analysis program manager with the OCHE for the past two years. Director for the Industry Driven Workforce Development Partnerships Dr. Kirk Lacy was the catalyst for the project. For the past year, Rose has worked on the project with two economists Amy Watson and Barbara Wagner from the DLI to generate a report about Missoula College's, the two-year school of the University of Montana, pipeline for workforce development.

Rose said the pipeline was defined as how many students come into the school, how they progress and what their employment looked like afterwards.

"When a student comes in, we can look at what their major is, how long it takes them to graduate, how many credits they took, if they graduated or not and if they received a job after they graduated, how much they made, where they live, what industry they are in, and really trying to maximize the school's potential to meet local workforce needs," said Rose. "That is one of the missions of two-year education in the state is to drive work force development."


Rose said the report is broken into three pieces. The first is the student demographics inputs. The second piece is the outputs, how many graduate, what do they do when they graduate, what are their wages, what programs graduate a lot of people, those that graduate a few people and those programs with a high rate of transfer. The third piece is the gap analysis that looks at what the workforce actually needs compared to what the college provides in the way of graduates.

Rose said that in general Missoula College does a pretty good job of supplying the local work force. The biggest take away is there is a shortage of health care workers. Rose said that Montana is one of the oldest states in the country based on average age. Many of the people who are retiring are in health care and after they retire they will be using the services offered.

Rose said one fifth of the workforce is at or near retirement age. With a statewide workforce of just less than 600,000, that is going to create a huge labor and skill shortage.

"That's where our two-year college system becomes really important with the trades," said Rose. "We don't have enough plumbers, electricians and nurses in the state. Those are areas we need to work on bolstering the education delivery to train those employees. We also need to change the public perception [that a four-year degree is the only option for success]. Right now a two-year associates degree will get you a higher wage than a four-year bachelors degree."

Rose said an average nurse graduating from a two-year school can make more than $40,000 per year their first year. Welders are making more than $30,000 per year their first year. In contrast, philosophy majors are only making $15,000 per year.

"It's really a mix of what our state needs in terms of a workforce and what our campuses are providing," said Rose.

Every year each state agency nominates employees to receive the Governor's award for excellence and performance. Rose's supervisor Deputy Commissioner for Academic and Student Affairs Dr. John Cech and Commission of Department of Labor and Industry Pam Bucy nominated the project along with everyone on it. Rose was the only award recipient for OCHE.

Rose said the project was nominated because it was a new, innovative project that was very aggressive in scope and size. This is the first time a report matching student records with DLI records has been created in the country.

"This has been something our state has been trying to move towards is using labor market information and using student data to really drive strategic decisions," said Rose. "In order for two-year schools to be efficient and effective, they need to use this data and see where the gaps are and where the interest is and move strategically to really promote programs that will be successful and prioritize differently."

This summer, those with the project are duplicating the same research statewide to include 16 colleges.

"It's an honor to receive the award because the work that we did will have a positive impact on the local community," said Rose. "Since Seeley Lake is a part of Missoula County, Missoula College is the two-year wing of UM and I'm a graduate of UM, it's nice to help out the alma mater and improve the local college's ability to serve the high school students and the local community."

Rose and his team will be honored at a ceremony in Helena Aug. 22.

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