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New National Skills Coalition Analysis: Middle-Skill Gap Means Colorado Employers Struggle to Fill Key Jobs
Coalition pushes bill in General Assembly to help close skill gap
Denver, CO – Employers in Colorado face a shortage of sufficiently trained workers to fill middle-skill jobs, according to a new analysis issued by the National Skills Coalition. These jobs, which require training beyond high school but not a four-year degree, make up the largest part of America’s labor market. In Colorado, middle-skill jobs account for 50 percent of the labor market, but only 40 percent of the state’s workers are sufficiently trained to fill these positions.
Skills2Compete-Colorado, a multi-sector coalition of education, workforce development, and business representatives, is seeking to close this skill gap. Led statewide by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, the coalition is backing a bill recently introduced in the Colorado General Assembly that would connect workers to the most effective training programs to help them compete for middle-skill job openings.
Although all of Colorado’s public colleges submit student data to the state, not all private institutions are required to do so. Senate Bill 118 (sponsored by Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora) would require private occupational schools to report similar information as public colleges. State agencies would use this data for a website offering students a comprehensive, one-stop resource to find information on their education and training options before they invest in post-secondary education. The tool would include information about which jobs will be in demand in Colorado over the next 10 years, loan debt, program completion rates, percent of former students employed, and median post-program salaries.
The legislation is scheduled to be heard by the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee on Feb. 13 at 1:30 p.m.
“Coloradans know that education and training is key to getting a good job. But deciding between hundreds of options can be difficult. Students need to be able to compare cost, time, and employment and earning outcomes to assess their return on their investment,” said Chaer Robert, Manager of the Family Economic Security Program at the Colorado Center on Law and Social Policy.
“If enacted, the law would give students key data before they make an important investment in their education,” said Jenna Leventoff, Policy Analyst at Workforce Data Quality Campaign – a project of National Skills Coalition.
“Today, getting a higher education requires investing significant time and money. Deciding which school to attend, what to study, and how to pay for it is difficult and can have lasting effects on a young person's financial wellbeing into the future. With so much on the line, we owe it to students and families to provide reliable information about all of the colleges and training programs in our state,” said Christina Postolowski, Rocky Mountain Director of Young Invincibles, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for young adults. “More and better data, particularly around outcomes for graduates, can empower students to gain a deeper understanding of which educational pathways are their personal best options.”
The legislation also calls for private occupational schools to provide students with information about educational outcomes (such as completion rates, total costs, estimated debt load and average starting salaries), before students enroll.
Veterans are a significant focus of the bill, due to the high rate of Post-9/11 G.I. Bill educational benefits used at private occupational schools.
Skills2Compete-Colorado is a multi-sector coalition that includes representatives from adult education, post-secondary education, workforce development, community based organizations, business, and the advocacy arena. Now coordinated by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, the coalition works to advance public policy that promotes middle skill job training and full access to education and training opportunities for all Coloradans.
National Skills Coalition is a broad-based coalition of employers, unions, education and training providers, and public officials working toward a vision of an America that grows its economy by investing in its people so that every worker and every industry has the skills to compete and prosper.