In 2021, the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) received $95M in federal stimulus dollars as a one-time cash infusion to bolster the state’s higher education system. Shortly thereafter, the state legislature empowered a taskforce of education and industry leaders from across the state to compile findings and release their recommendations on how these dollars should be allocated to best support learners.
Colorado Succeeds and the Colorado Business Roundtable served on the state taskforce, representing the business community’s perspective. A complete version of the taskforce’s report can be found here. A brief blog synopsis highlighting Colorado Succeeds’ policy priorities is available here.
In March, we brought together over thirty leaders from postsecondary intuitions and industry to discuss their vision for the future of higher education in Colorado and ways in which we can work together to create a more agile and relevant systems that meets the individual needs of each learner.
There is a need for greater communication between employers and higher education, especially community colleges who exist to support local career pathways. Higher education would like greater dialogue from industry on the talent needs they are facing, and industry has a role to play in lending facilities, equipment, instructors, and expertise.
There are pockets of innovation happening all around the state, but we need to come together to focus on scale. Rather than pilot one-off, siloed programs, there was a collective call for entire industries to come together to create predictable and sustainable pathways that attract learners, drive revenue, and help feed the talent pipeline.
There is a need for a more coordinated entry point for businesses who want to start or scale work-based learning opportunities and/or partnerships with higher education.
Higher education seeks the support of the business community in advocating for improvements to the system. Postsecondary leaders pointed out policy challenges and barriers in the system and called on business leaders to amplify their voice in support of mutually beneficial solutions.
The federal stimulus dollars for higher education provide an unprecedented opportunity to fund statewide pathway partnerships at scale. Colorado Succeeds and the Colorado Business Roundtable are eager to continue talks between industry and higher education, and lead in the development of next steps. If you are a business leader interested in participating in these conversations, please contact Ashley Andersen (email@example.com).