Pushing Apprenticeships To Help East Coasters In Missoula?

by William Skink

When I first learned about the proposal by Council members Heather Harp and Gwen Jones to coerce contractors to create registered apprenticeship programs I was immediately skeptical. Why is this needed, I thought? Thanks to this Missoula Current piece I know have a better understanding of the reasoning for this proposal: to help transplants from the east coast reduce the cost of residential renovations to their newly acquired property. Think I’m kidding? From the link:

A few weeks ago, a constituent of mine in the University District who recently relocated from New York City told me that he had a harder time finding a contractor, and it cost more for the remodel on his house, here than it would have in New York.

Here in little old Missoula, Montana?

Well, it all relates back to the core issue of workforce development in the trades, which is one of the factors (of which there are many) that contribute to our affordable housing crisis. Following presentations to City Council by the Department of Labor, several unions and several contractors regarding the value of incorporating registered apprentices on public works projects, City Councilor Heather Harp and I took up this issue.

If there was a prize for tone-deaf comments from elected officials, I think this would win a big, blue ribbon.

While Gwen Jones is worrying about her friends from New York City, the Poverello Center is back in crisis after a second flood destroyed all the costly work done after the first flood of sewage water took out the main men’s dorm. The monumental effort to raise funds to cover the $150,000 price tag will now have to be duplicated, if possible.

Is it even possible, or is our generous Missoula community going to experience need-fatigue after being constantly tapped to triage homelessness?

I think need-fatigue is setting in, and next winter it’s going to be very challenging to once again ask Missoula citizens to raise the money needed to find another band-aid solution to keep humans from turning into ice cubes on our streets.

Maybe I should look on the bright side. If the appropriate facilities ever get built, at least those young apprentices will get valuable experience developing their skills. Right?

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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