Every kid in Montana doesn't need to get a four-year liberal arts degree. We need more trades education in our high schools. We need skilled workers to fill all of the jobs that are available in the state. That's what I hear all across Montana.

Thanks to an idea that started in the school system in Conrad, Montana, an effort to get more trades education in our schools is being embraced by the Montana Equipment Dealers Association and is now launching statewide.

Recently on Montana Talks, our statewide radio talk show, we featured a live panel discussion from the Montana Equipment Dealers Association convention in Whitefish. The panel featured equipment dealers from across the state, along with Sharyl Allen, the former Superintendent of Schools in Conrad, who is now at the state Office of Public Instruction.

Here's the basic concept: we have employers who need skilled workers. We have young people who won't be going to college. So, why not get them started in a solid career right here in Montana?

Additionally, we may not have multi-million dollar "shops" in all of our schools, with a $500,000 machine to train on, but there's a shop down the street. So why can't these students train on those machines? It's about changing the entire way we think about "shop" class.

If you missed our live show from Whitefish, click below to listen to highlights as Montana Talks host Aaron Flint moderates the panel discussion from the Montana Equipment Dealers Association convention.