Lawmakers popose Education Tax Credits to help boost skilled labor force – Seeley Swan Pathfinder

Casey Olson has been on a drill rig since 1991. Back then, Olson worked at a mineral exploration company, and though the work was “break-back,” learning the equipment wasn’t too difficult.

Fast forward 30 years later, he’s now running Rabco Services as an independent well drilling contractor in Columbia Falls and Olson says the technology is rapidly outpacing the knowledge of new workers, which are hard enough to find as it is.

“We’re trying to target younger guys, we take older guys — we take whoever wants to come,” Olson said in a phone interview. “I don’t even know that it’s really an age limit anymore. Everybody I know in our industry has kind of given up trying to hire somebody who’s already trained.”

Olson founded his business in 2015 and now pays three full-time employees, but says it’s a struggle to find the time and money to pay for their continuing education, while also searching for more of a resource Montana has in short supply: skilled workers.

Nearly a month and a half into the 67th Legislative Session, a series of bills from Gov. Greg Gianforte have begun working their way through the process, all seeking to make cuts to numerous Montana taxes. One of the major proposals is aimed at solving the problem of Montana’s skilled-laborer shortage: House Bill 252. Advocates say the bill is just the next step in a long history of improving support for career and technical education in the state.

Tuesday, Feb. 9, marked the first