Senate Bill SB22-140 Equips Employers to Expand Work-Based Learning

Now is the time for Colorado to prioritize talent development. Recent legislation, introduced by Sen. James Coleman and Rep. Barbara McLachlan, encourages employers to offer work-based learning programs for youth. This policy is part of a broader package of workforce related strategies seeking to implement several of Governor Polis’ key budget priorities.

Evidence shows that students benefit from experiential learning opportunities like work-based learning – higher GPAs, greater engagement, and stronger postsecondary outcomes, and career readiness after high school. A growing number of Colorado employers are already offering these opportunities and with this legislation, even more employers would be well equipped to expand their offerings.

SB22-140 incentivizes employers to participate in work-based learning by offsetting some of the indirect costs associated with these programs, including the training needed to successfully run a work-based learning program internally and with external partners.

The legislation will identify locally-based, employer-facing work-based learning intermediaries to serve as hubs that provide technical assistance, coaching, and other supports needed for employers to expand high-quality work-based learning. The intermediaries could be a nonprofit, a local chamber of commerce, or an industry association, among other eligible entities.

Employer-led work-based learning programs will help develop Colorado’s untapped talent pools that can meet the demands of business in the near term. In Colorado, one in eight workers is an immigrant. Twenty percent of Coloradans speak a language other than English at home. The bill does also address language barriers through the alignment of education and employment to create immediate access to talent for business.

How does this bill help students and employers?

  • Acts as a work-based learning catalyst, sparking interest and demand from all players in the ecosystem to work together. Done right, this should encourage regular and long-lasting partnerships and investment to build long term talent pipelines in crucial industries.
  • Helps students by using incentives to encourage employers to work with K-12, higher education, and other learning providers to build a more robust talent pipeline. 

We want to hear from you! We’re looking for businesses to tell us how incentives could help you expand work-based learning for youth and/or adults. Contact us here.


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Kelly Caufield