As members of Colorado’s business community, we are writing to express our full support for the College Credit for Work Experience Bill (HB20-1002), which recently received bipartisan, unanimous support from the Making Higher Education Attainable Interim Committee.
The proposed legislation would allow students and members of the current workforce to earn postsecondary credit for demonstrating competencies gained through work-related experience, such as work-based learning in high school through apprenticeships. This would be accomplished by implementing a statewide plan that awards postsecondary academic credit for work experience.
As business leaders dedicated to improving education in Colorado, we believe this bill is a critical step towards an education system that is more permeable and agile. We aspire to a future where all of Colorado’s learners develop transferable competencies that will prepare them for a future we cannot predict, and where the education system is responsive to the diverse needs and interests of all learners. The legislation would ensure there are multiple high-quality pathways for learners, of all ages, who seek to accelerate postsecondary credential completion.
Through our partnerships with educators statewide, we are laser focused on opportunities to further expand career-connected learning. The legislation would increase the value of work-based learning for students because the experiences would be tied to postsecondary credit that is transferable towards postsecondary credentials. It also creates a natural framework for how work experience can count as postsecondary credit, reducing the burden on employers who are interested in participating in work-based learning.
As we work toward a more agile education system, we applaud the provisions that allow industry a seat at the table to ensure institutions of higher education are focused on ways to award credit for knowledge and competencies learned at the workplace, including a prioritization of the fastest growing industries in the state, based on the annual Colorado Talent Pipeline report.
In addition, this legislation would require a framework for how industry credentials earned in high school could count towards postsecondary academic credit, accelerating credential completion. In 2016, the legislature passed the Career Success Development Fund to provide financial incentives to school districts based on the number of high school students completing industry credentials tied to in-demand jobs in the state. After three years, over 16,000 students have completed credentials, work-based learning experiences, and relevant courses tied to this Fund.
As parents, business leaders, and Coloradans, we ask that you vote in favor of this meaningful legislation that validates the competencies learners can demonstrate from work experience.