Colorado Career Pathways Proposals Advance.

April 12, 2013

A bill to blend education and skills programs to help the unemployed rejoin Colorado’s workforce passed the Colorado House this week by a vote of 40 to 22. The bill is a key component of a package of bills to accelerate the state’s economy and connect Coloradans to good jobs. The bill now moves onto the Senate. The Colorado Skills2Compete (S2C) Coalitionhas worked closely with legislators to advance this legislation.

House Bill 13-1005, sponsored by Reps. John Buckner (D-Aurora) and Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora), is an accelerated education and training effort patterned after Washington’s IBEST (integrated basic education and skills training) program. If passed, the bill will implement a similar (pilot) program to fast-track education and training programs to match Colorado’s workers with the jobs that are in demand. The bill combines basic education with skills training classes, and speeds up the process of obtaining industry-recognized credentials in high demand industries.

The bill directs the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education, in collaboration with the local district junior colleges, area vocational schools, the Department of Education, and local workforce development programs, to implement a pilot program of 20 career and technical education certificate programs. Certificate programs will be designed to allow completion within 12 months, with each program combining math and literacy skills with career and technical training. The certificate programs will be available on a pilot basis to underemployed or unemployed adults with low literacy skills.

The S2C Coalition is actively working with other stakeholders in support of several other bills that create pathways of opportunity toward skilled employment and self-sufficiency.

Colorado Careers Act (House Bill 1004): This bill proposes a $2 million career pathways program housed in the Department of Labor and Employment. The program provides grants to eligible entities to enable low income individuals to acquire skills necessary to obtain or improve their employability. The bill establishes a career pathways fund and directs the division to submit an annual report to specified committees of the General Assembly. The bill passed through the House earlier this week.

Manufacturing Career Pathway (House Bill 1165): This bill requires the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education, in conjunction with the Department of Labor and Employment, the State Workforce Development Council, the Department of Higher Education, and the Department of Education, to design a manufacturing career pathway for the skills needed for employment in Colorado's manufacturing sector. The manufacturing career pathway will connect school districts, community colleges, and 4-year institutions of higher education with adult education programs and local workforce development programs and allow a student to earn income while progressing along the career pathway.

Heading into 2013, the S2C Coalition efforts were focused on encouraging legislators to pass a range of higher education and other human capital investments to increase the skills of Colorado workers. Due to the efforts of the Colorado Center for Law and Policy (CCLP) and other S2C partners, coalition leaders have made progress through numerous meetings with key legislators and many S2C members testifying in support of these proposals. The coalition will continue to work with key stakeholders, legislators, and staff during the remaining days of the legislative session.