Guest opinion: JMG opens doors for Montana students

2014-04-27T00:00:00Z Guest opinion: JMG opens doors for Montana studentsBy PAM BUCY The Billings Gazette
April 27, 2014 12:00 am  • 

This week, more than 300 high school students from all over Montana will converge in Billings for the Jobs for Montana Graduates 24th annual Career Development Conference. A program of choice for both high schools and middle schools seeking to improve their students’ success in staying in school, JMG helps students prepare a meaningful career plan and become contributing members of the workforce and economy.

For eight years in a row, JMG has achieved the prestigious “5 for 5” award from Jobs for America’s Graduates, JMG’s national organization. To win this award, state programs must meet performance benchmarks. In Montana, our program has exceeded these goals every year for the last eight years. For students enrolled in JMG, 97.84 percent graduate from high school. This compares to a national JAG goal of 90 percent, and an average graduation rate for all Montana students of 84.4 percent. JMG has also exceeded the other four national performance goals:

 82.87 percent of JMG graduates are working (National goal: 60 percent)

 96.69 percent of JMG graduates are working, in the military, and/or attending college (National goal: 80 percent)

 93.61 percent of JMG graduates are in full-time placement, including jobs, schooling, etc. (National goal: 80 percent)

 75.33 percent of JMG graduates are in full-time employment and/or the military (National goal: 60 percent)

Billings program best

There are about 50 JMG programs in Montana, and they are all providing incredible opportunities for their students. The Billings program, offered to students at the Billings Career Center, has risen to the top. Billings’ JMG students have consistently been recognized for high achievement, boasting a 100 percent graduation rate and 100 percent positive outcomes rate. Billings has also won the State Championship Award and Multi-Year Program Championship Award. This achievement would not be possible without the support of the people of Billings, and your community should be proud of this success.

Last year, I had the honor of joining Governor Steve Bullock and the Main Street Montana Project team in traveling the state to hear from business owners and community leaders from Montana Main Streets about what we can do, as a state, to create opportunities and grow Montana’s economy. As labor commissioner, I was pleased to hear that workforce development, training, and education were top priorities in every single community. We heard that employers need skilled workers to create value and build quality products. We also heard that soft skills — those hard-to-define skills like professionalism, punctuality, and communication — are extremely important to employers. JMG instills future job seekers with these skills at an early age and empowers them to join the labor market with confidence and preparation. I know that JMG will be a valuable partner in implementing the governor’s business plan for Montana, and I look forward to growing and expanding this program to more of our state’s communities.

Let’s celebrate the successes of our students and our future economic opportunities in Montana. Graduation is just around the corner, and today’s high school students will be the employees and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. With the hard work and dedication of students and educators in programs like JMG, I know that Montana’s future is bright and full of opportunity.

Montana Labor Commissioner Pam Bucy of Helena plans to be in Billings this week for the JMG awards presentations.

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