On Tuesday afternoon 20 to 30 high tech firms in western Montana gathered at the new Missoula College to learn about an apprenticeship program designed to help them gain new employees.

Apprenticeship Liaison Dylan Rogness said the program will help these high tech firms find the employees they need.

“It’s a new innovative work-based learning opportunity that we’re creating both inside and outside of the tech sector,” said Rogness. “It’s a showcase for industry that internships and apprenticeships are a real source of talent for companies that may be struggling to find talent now with the low unemployment rate.”

Rogness said there are opportunities for both students and employers.

“It’s an earn-while-you-learn model, and the tagline is to grow your own workforce,” he said. “Businesses love it because they get a concrete commitment from the students for about 2,000 hours which is the minimum for an apprenticeship, and students love it because most of them have to work while they go to school anyway, so if they see that these companies are willing to invest in them, it means security for them to know that they’re going to have a job essentially from the day they start school until the day they graduate.”

Some of the high tech businesses represented at the event included Alter Enterprises, Blackfoot Telecommunications and First Call.