Colorado Succeeds sees 2022 as the year to prioritize talent development. We, along with 40 other organizations, strongly supported the Student Success & Workforce Revitalization Taskforce’s report recommendations and urged stimulus dollars to focus on four key priorities:
- 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
- Grow long-term talent development by ensuring all students have access to high quality work-based learning and postsecondary credit in high school
All four of these priorities have seen recent movements in the legislature.
Regional Grants Will Bring Industry and Education Together
Strongly aligned with the taskforce’s final recommendations, The Regional Talent Development Initiative Grant Program (HB22-1350) would authorize OEDIT to fund talent development initiatives across the state that meet regional labor market needs. The bill cleared the House Education Committee and now moves to House Appropriations.
Colorado Succeeds strongly urged for industry to remain at the table in these grants. We were particularly pleased by these provisions:
- Creation of a steering committee of business, civic, education, and other professionals to develop a grant application process and establish prioritization criteria. A strong component of the taskforce was the diverse representation of it – broadening conversations to include education, economic development, industry, nonprofits, labor, and K-12.
- A requirement that the grant applicants must include industry and education. Employers having an equal seat at the table with higher education to invest in and co-create regional and statewide strategies for short-term and long-term talent needs is critical to our state’s economic competitiveness.
Colorado Succeeds is actively involved in passing this legislation and empowering business to be at the table throughout implementation.
Stackable Pathways Advance to be Informed by Industry
Senators Zenzinger and Simpson introduced SB22-192, increasing the postsecondary credential attainment rate. This bill would create more stackable credential pathways in high-need, high-demand, high-value fields at large scale. This will help Coloradans move seamlessly from school to training programs to fulfilling jobs.
Stackability matters to students because it makes education pathways easier to navigate and more permeable. By unbundling degree programs into shorter micro-credentials with industry value, shorter-term credentials can be “stacked” into higher-level degrees, beginning as early as high school. Working with our institutions, especially workforce-focused 2-year institutions, this policy will help embed meaningful credit-bearing, work-based experiences in more degree and certificate programs.
Colorado Succeeds advocated for the inclusion of industry involvement to inform these pathways and appreciated amendments that were adopted to ensure a seat at the table. The state should invest in brokers between industry and education partners to inform the pathway development, including summarizing industry input on the skills and credentials with the highest labor market value.
We look forward to continuing to work with the legislature and the department on ensuring students learn about these pathways.
Students Success Data Dashboard Moves Forward
Legislation creating a new public student success dashboard cleared its first hurdle in House Education. Through the successful advocacy of Colorado Succeeds and partners, we welcomed the inclusion of:
- Industry being added to the group tasked with creating new measures. We believe there is a lack of awareness of the current data available in our state and by expanding stakeholder involvement such as industry, we build more champions and increase the ability to share what is available.
- Ensuring the new student success data system one day becomes a longitudinal data system connecting K-12, higher education, and workforce outcomes. The requirement of a report to the legislature identifying any barriers by January will be critical in making this a reality.
- Requiring outcomes for our non-traditional students, including transfer students, and not just traditional first-time, full-time students. With this additional information we will better understand the pathways of all students.
- Learning earlier how students are progressing in postsecondary education. What happens 2, 4, 6 years after they enter the system? Currently, there is a six-year data lag in postsecondary outcomes data since that is how long we often give students to graduate. With this addition, Colorado could be a national leader and get this information faster from institutions.
The bill cleared the House Education Committee and now moves to House Appropriations.
Developing Sustainable Talent through High-Quality Work-Based Learning & College Credit Attainment in High School
A taskforce focused on high school blur programming in Colorado cleared its first hurdle (HB22-1215). Rep. Julie McCluskie and Rep. Jen Bacon moved an amendment strengthening the legislation. It still has a few more steps in the legislative process, but we anticipate continued movement. Big wins include:
- No longer a taskforce just focused on early college high schools, but a broader and more impactful conversation called the “secondary, postsecondary, and work-based learning integration” essentially the “blur” taskforce. If passed, it would convene later this year and in 2023. With final recommendations to the legislature in 2023
- The taskforce being required to examine how more high-quality work-based learning can be included in high school models, including industry credentials
- Includes many policies that Succeeds has championed over the years including a pilot around seat time flexibility and three-year high school models, could lead to additional seat time flexibility for more districts
- Creates momentum for additional financial resources for programs in students Years 11-14, and forcing a conversation not just on increasing access, but quality
Colorado Succeeds looks forward to continuing to work with the Governor’s office, our agency leaders, the legislature, and other advocacy partners in supporting all four of these bills as they move into the appropriations process.