DLI Celebrates National Apprenticeship Week, Presents Awards to Education Partners

  • — November 12 2020

The Montana Department of Labor & Industry today presented awards to two outstanding apprenticeship partners to recognize National Registered Apprenticeship Week from November 8 through 14.

Lorren Schlotfeldt, an instructor at Montana State University-Northern, received the 2020 Montana Registered Apprenticeship Service Award for his 14 years of providing exceptional instruction, helping plumbing apprentices pursue successful careers.

As a leader in apprentice education, MSU-Northern is the recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Education Partner award for the institution’s role in starting Montana’s first Plumbing Technology Program and expanding apprenticeship education opportunities across the state.

“The Montana Registered Apprenticeship Program continues to provide Montanans with the skills they need to join high-paying and meaningful careers,” Acting Commissioner Brenda Nordlund said. “Both of these awardees have embodied that goal by helping build tomorrow’s workforce today.”

MSU-Northern has been instrumental in providing training to thousands of apprentices in Montana. Since 2004, the college has offered courses recognized by the Montana Registered Apprenticeship Program to supplement on-the-job training. The college provides instruction to 28 apprenticeship programs, most entirely online, helping students continue training opportunities during the ongoing pandemic. Starting the Spring 2021 Semester, MSU-Northern will begin offering apprenticeship education evening classes in Great Falls, Bozeman and Billings, expanding apprentices’ options across the state.

Schlotfeldt, an MSU-Northern graduate and Master Plumber with 16 years of on-the-job experience, has provided technical instruction to MSU-Northern students since 2005 and plans to retire at the end of this school year. Since Schlotfeldt joined the program, student enrollments increased substantially, with over 30 new freshmen enrolling each year. MSU-Northern holds the only Plumbing Technology Program in Montana, keeping students in the state as they pursue their training. With Schlotfedlt’s exceptional instruction, it is ranked as one of the top 10 programs in the U.S.

“It’s been a pleasure to serve the apprentices and business owners of Montana. The Montana Department of Labor has been so easy to work with and these programs could not have been as successful without their guidance and assistance,” said Schlotfeldt. “Teaching the plumbing program has been a dream job, and I’m blessed to have been a part of MSU -Northern’s team. Being a plumber in Montana has been a rewarding vocation, and I was lucky enough to teach the future plumbers and help them with their careers.”

This is the second year DLI has presented awards to apprenticeship partners to celebrate National Registered Apprenticeship Week. Last year’s awardees were Tri-County Mechanical & Electrical, Montana Sheet Metal Workers Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee, and the Montana Health Network. The awards acknowledge and reward Montana Registered Apprenticeship Program partners and sponsors’ exceptional work across the state.

The Montana Registered Apprenticeship Program is an excellent training model that helps employers build a highly customizable, skilled workforce to meet their business needs. In Montana, a majority of apprentices remain in the state upon completion. In turn, apprentices immediately start working and earn a paycheck while completing the required training and instruction. Upon completion, apprentices receive an industry-recognized credential that ensures future employers know the apprentice is qualified. A year after graduation, Montana apprentices earn an average wage of $58,086, nearly $11,600 higher than the statewide average wage.

For more information on the Montana Registered Apprenticeship Program, visit apprenticeship.mt.gov.

Contact Jessica Nelson: Public Information Officer, Department of Labor and Industry
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