2016 Colorado Talent Pipeline Report: 10 Takeaways

Our partners at the Colorado Workforce Development Council released the 2016 Colorado Talent Pipeline Report last month. This annual report is a workforce landscape gold mine, highlighting the future of jobs in Colorado and issues surrounding our state’s workforce and post-secondary education outcomes as they relate to our economy. The Talent Pipeline Report looks at current opportunities and shifts in the Colorado workforce including:

  • The state of our current economy and changing workforce
  • The impact of demographics and post-secondary education on our future workforce
  • Analyzing “top jobs” that are high demand, high growth, and that pay a living wage
  • Status overviews of current talent development initiatives, such as credentialing

Colorado Succeeds recently dug into the report and found some interesting key takeaways. Check out our top 10 below:

Changing Demographics in Colorado

Flat Round School Subjects Icons with Long Shadows1. By 2050, there will be a 50 percent balance between Colorado’s majority & minority populations. The racial and ethnic composition of our state is shifting dramatically. This change in demographics will require post-secondary training to include more diverse populations across Colorado, as well as greater equity in access to a high-quality K-12 education.

Source: 2016 Colorado Talent Pipeline Report


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2. 21 percent of Colorado Hispanic adults have a college degree, in comparison to 54 percent of  White Colorado adults. Closing the achievement and degree attainment gap for all students is critical to keep Colorado thriving. As our state’s Hispanic population continues to grow, addressing this inequity must be a priority.


Business, office and marketing items icons.3. Currently, 65 percent of Coloradans ages 16-64 are working. This percentage is decreasing due to the retirement of Baby Boomers. As the state’s population will continue a slower rate of growth, the labor force will be smaller relative to the total population it supports. This is just one reason why it is important to make sure as many Coloradans as possible have the opportunity to enter the middle class and earn a self-sustaining, livable wage.

Workforce Landscape

Flat Round School Subjects Icons with Long Shadows4. About 36 percent of annual Colorado job openings are considered “Top Jobs”. 70 percent of these “Top Jobs” typically require formalized post-secondary education or training. The criteria for Top Jobs include the following: projected high annual openings, above average growth rate, and offer a living wage. Top jobs are broken out into Tier 1 and Tier 2 categories based on potential earnings.

  • Tier 1 Jobs:  Median earnings at or above $22.90/hour to support a family with two adults (one working) and one child
  • Tier 2 Jobs:  Median earnings of $11.33/hour to support one individual


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5. 15.8 percent of all workers have an alternative work arrangement (contract, on-call, or temporary) as their main job. This “Gig Economy” (including jobs such as driving for Uber) is an emerging trend across the workforce. Workers in this field have greater flexibility and low entrepreneurial operating costs. In exchange, they often give up health insurance, guaranteed specific income, and other benefits. According to the report, most workers who earn income through an online gig economy platform are supplementing another job as their main income source.


Business, office and marketing items icons.6. The 4 job sectors with high-growth opportunities that offer a living wage for a family of three include healthcare practitioners, IT, business & finance, and engineering. For job openings in these Tier 1 Jobs, as described in the report, nearly all require formal education or training beyond high school. The projected annual openings for these jobs are:



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7. Colorado’s unemployment and underemployment rates are some of the lowest in the nation. At 3.4 percent and 7.3 percent, our state’s unemployment and underemployment rates are much lower than the national averages of 5 percent and 9.9 percent. Importantly this varies by education level, with the unemployment rate of associate degree holders and bachelor degree holders roughly half that of those with only a high school degree.

Post-Secondary Education & Career Readiness

Flat Round School Subjects Icons with Long Shadows8. Nearly half of young workers in the U.S. find that their formal education did not prepare them for their career. The report rightfully identifies this as an opportunity to better align our education system with the needs of industry via quality work-based learning opportunities. As you’ll see in #10, Colorado is taking important steps to increase valuable experiential learning opportunities for students.


Flat Round School Subjects Icons with Long Shadows9. Of 100 Colorado ninth graders, 77 graduate on time, 43 enroll in college that fall, 34 return the following year, and 23 graduate college in four years. Colorado needs to improve students’ degree attainment, both in high school and in college, to better prepare our kids for success in their adult lives. 65 percent of Tier 1 Jobs require a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, those with a four-year degree earn, on average, an additional $450 per week compared to those with just a high school diploma.


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10. Of Colorado’s 5,222 registered apprentices, only 5 percent of are female. Women make up nearly half of Colorado’s workforce but are vastly underrepresented in apprenticeships, STEM careers, and learning opportunities. To avoid labor shortages in key industries across our state, it is critical to increase the number of women and girls pursuing STEM at early points in their education and participate in apprenticeships that provide STEM career exposure. For example, did you know that women who try computer science in high school are 10 times more likely to study it in college?


Jamie Trafficanda

Manager of Communications and Programs
Colorado Succeeds