Workforce Development

Colorado workforce demand in focus

A special report by Colorado Community Media

Staff report
Posted 4/10/16

With the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the nation, 3 percent, Colorado has made mountainous gains when it comes to economic development following the recession that struck in December 2007 and lingered for years.

Businesses are flocking to …

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Workforce Development

Colorado workforce demand in focus

A special report by Colorado Community Media

Posted

With the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the nation, 3 percent, Colorado has made mountainous gains when it comes to economic development following the recession that struck in December 2007 and lingered for years.

Businesses are flocking to the Centennial State, and Coloradans are finding work. But employers increasingly are finding it difficult to find the right workers to fill their jobs.

Metro North Chamber of Commerce President Angela Habben said, at least in her organization’s part of the Denver area, the workforce isn’t meeting the market demand.

“Either employers can’t find workers willing to do the job or they can’t find prospects with the training required to meet position qualifications,” she said.

Simon Fox, deputy director of Business and Funding Initiatives for the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, said the demand is great for wokers in the fields of information technology and skilled trades.

“There aren’t enough welders or carpenters,” he said.

Democratic and Repbulican state lawmakers are working together to address this. The 10 bills comprising a bipartisan package called Colorado Ready to Work are making their way through the Legislature.

The overriding theme is creating partnerships between the business and education communities, with the goal of developing a workforce that can meet Colorado’s growing and changing demands.

For many business leaders, measures like these can’t be passed soon enough, given the massive growth the Denver metro area figures to see in coming years.

“That’s a real supply-and-demand dilemma if we don’t act soon,” Habben said.

Click on the links to the articles below to learn more about the bills and what is being done now to train Colorado's workforce in the face of growing and changing demand.

Colorado workforce demand in focus

Colorado students prep for job market

Job measures aim to work wonders

Educators taking wider view of creating workforce

A new level of expertise and education

About the bills:

Industry infrastructure grant program: HB16-1288

House: Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D-Arvada, Westminster)

Senate: Jack Tate (R-Centennial)

What it does: Works toward a system in which businesses are engaged in the education system as centers of learning and drivers of career-focused education content. Creates a matching grant program within the Colorado Workforce Development Council to assist industry associations to define industry competencies and collaborate to facilitate training and education in the classroom and the workplace.   

Progress: On March 15, the House Committee on Business Affairs and Labor sent the bill to the Finance Committee.

Apprenticeship study: HB16-1287

House: Paul Rosenthal (D-Denver) and Jim Wilson (R-Salida)

Senate: John Cooke (R-Weld County) and John Kefalas (D-Fort Collins)

What it does: Directs the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to study ways to increase the use of apprenticeship programs by Colorado businesses and to make a report and recommendations based on the study.

Progress: On March 28, the bill passed the House and was introduced in the Senate.

Extension of ReHire Colorado: HB16-1290

House: Daneya Esgar (D-Pueblo) and Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D-Arvada, Westminster)

Senate: Owen Hill (R-El Paso County) and Rollie Heath (D-Boulder)

What it does: Extends the ReHire Colorado program, which provides job training to help Coloradans find gainful employment and transition off of government assistance. The program helps the economic recovery reach the Coloradans who need it most, focusing on helping veterans, seniors and non-custodial parents secure long-term employment

Progress: On March 15, the House Committee on Business Affairs and Labor referred the unamended bill to the Appropriations Committee.

Tax credit for apprenticeships: HB16-1301

House: Alec Garnett (D-Denver)

Senate: Mark Scheffel (R-Parker)

What it does: Provides an income tax credit to qualified Colorado businesses that integrate quality apprenticeships into their workplaces. Companies must offer high-paying, in-demand jobs as identified by the state Workforce Development Council.

Progress: On March 9, the House Committee on Finance referred an amended version of the bill to the Appropriations Committee.

Colorado Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act: HB16-1302

House: Crisanta Duran (D-Denver) and Brian DelGrosso (R-Loveland)

Senate: Linda Newell (D-Littleton)

What it does: Aligns state statute with the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

Progress: Passed the House on second reading, with amendments.

Clarifying license pathways for mental health professionals: HB 16-1103

House: Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D-Arvada, Westminster) and Lois Landgraf (R-Fountain)

Senate: Beth Martinez Humenik (R-Adams County) and Nancy Todd (D-Aurora)

What it does: Clarifies and streamlines the pathway to licensure in the mental health professions. The bill has passed its first House committee and was sent to the Appropriations Committee.

Progress: Passed both the House and Senate and sent to the governor.

Qualifications for licensed electricians: HB16-1073

House: Crisanta Duran (D-Denver) and Brian DelGrosso (R-Loveland)

Senate: Mark Scheffel (R-Parker) and Lucia Guzman (D-Denver)

What it does: Modifies the license renewal process for electricians by requiring continuing education rather than an assessment. The 24 hours of training will better equip electricians with the skills they need to be successful in their profession.

Progress: Passed the House and on March 24 passed the Senate on second reading.

Computer science and digital literacy: HB16-1291

House: Crisanta Duran (D-Denver) and Susan Lontine (D-Denver)

Senate: Owen Hill (R-El Paso County) and Michael Johnston (D-Denver)

What it does: Directs the Colorado Department of Education to update content standards to include tech skills and creates a voluntary resource bank for schools and districts that want to start or expand computer science programs for students.

Progress: On March 28, the House Committee on Education referred amended version to the Appropriations Committee.

Incentives for student success: HB16-1289

House: Crisanta Duran (D-Denver) and Daneya Esgar (R-Pueblo)

Senate: Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa) and Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo)

What it does: Creates a pilot program in which school districts receive a $1,000 bonus for each high school student who does the following: earns an industry certification tied to an in-demand job; or finishes a rigorous workplace training program tied to key industry needs; or successfully completes an AP computer science course.

Progress: On March 28, the House Committee on Education referred amended version to the Appropriations Committee.

Aligning student academic plans with career pathways: SB16-079

House: Beth Martinez Humenik (R-Adams County)

Senate: Nancy Todd (D-Aurora)

What it does: Directs the Colorado Department of Education to collaborate with the community college system to more effectively align postsecondary and workforce readiness initiatives, so that students graduate with the tools they need to be successful in their future career and academic goals.

Progress: Passed the Senate and was introduced in the House on Feb. 22.

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