Colorado Students

$95 million Federal Stimulus: Invest in Learners and Workforce Development

The statewide Student Success and Workforce Revitalization Task Force created by HB21-1330 last year, has provided its final recommendations to the legislature. Colorado Succeeds applauds the 1330 Commission’s findings and report as a roadmap to Colorado becoming the most economically competitive and talent-rich state in the nation.  

This taskforce, comprised of 26 leaders from across the state, including Colorado Succeeds President Scott Laband, started meeting in August 2021 to collaborate on this report. Representatives from higher education institutions, student organizations, and education advocacy groups joined business members in developing the final recommendations for how $95 million in federal stimulus should be allocated to support learners, higher education programs, and industry.   

We believe the taskforce report underscores what business already knows: the urgent challenge facing our state’s education-to-workforce system and the immense opportunities available if one-time federal funds can be used to seed and scale effective strategies to train our future workforce.   

Data points recently unveiled in the 2021 Colorado Talent Pipeline Report underscore this challenge:  

  • Only 1 in 4 Colorado high school graduates enroll immediately in a postsecondary education and completes a credential six years later.   
  • We have 10 years to address critical talent issues as the state’s over-65 population sees record growth, requiring more state spending on retirees, while the number of younger workers sustaining our tax base to fund education and other needs holds steady.   
  • And, there are thousands of well-paying in-demand jobs that go unfilled every year in Colorado’s hottest industries.  

Consistent with the 1330 report and the acute needs demanded by our economy, Colorado Succeeds supports federal stimulus dollars prioritized to: 

  • Bring industry and higher education together to build new pathways to in-demand jobs   
  • Reduce the time needed to acquire postsecondary credentials   
  • Invest in transparent statewide data systems to identify where learners are falling through the cracks  
  • Ensure all students have access to high quality work-based learning and postsecondary credit in high school   

In the end, adoption and implementation of these recommendations is what will matter the most. Business will hold state leaders accountable to the vision and principles set out in the report by closely working as a partner with K-12, workforce development and higher education to ensure more Coloradans get both the career-specific and essential skills that businesses need. If this is done right, Colorado’s business community could save on expensive recruiters and in-house training and invest, instead, in future economic prosperity to benefit more Coloradans.   

We are committed to this work. Stay tuned as Colorado Succeeds works with bipartisan legislators to incorporate many of the recommendations put forward in this report into legislation. Colorado Succeeds is dedicated to keeping the industry voice and perspective at the table to ensure that we are working together to create an integrated and aligned talent development system.   

 

Director of Strategic Partnerships at Colorado Succeeds