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Colorado Comeback Legislation Targeting $75 Million for Workforce Development Signed by the Governor

DENVER, CO – Today, the governor signed into law a bill from Colorado’s recovery package, allocating a historic $75 million to support workforce development.

HB21-1264, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Senators Chris Kolker and Dennis Hisey, invests $75 million to create an initiative within the state Workforce Development Council to reskill, upskill, and “next-skill” workers during periods of substantial unemployment. This will ensure that the state can build back stronger by making sure that Colorado’s workers have the tools they need to thrive.

“The last year has had a devastating impact on all of us, but especially our workforce. Coloradans were unexpectedly forced out of work during the pandemic, which resulted in financial loss, heightened stress, and decreased productivity,” said Senator Chris Kolker (D-Centennial). “In order for us to build back stronger, we need to ensure that our workers are fully equipped with this skill set necessary for them to get back to work and do their jobs efficiently. This funding supports training to advance one’s skills with their chosen work and develop new skills for those looking for careers new to the twenty-first century.”

Stimulus dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act make up two-thirds of the total funding, a decision made based on feedback from citizens of Colorado during the Build Back Stronger Statewide Listening Tour.

Specifically, the federal funding will be allocated to local workforce boards across the state for developing local workforce ecosystems across employer communities, workforce centers, and apprenticeship programs, and to the Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC) to enhance the statewide workforce ecosystem, including grants for statewide workforce innovation initiatives.

Additionally, federal funding will be allocated to the Department of Higher Education for Career and Technical Education to expand equipment, facility, and instruction capacity in the key career and technical education job demand areas. Lastly, $5 million in federal funding will be distributed to the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) Adult Education and Literacy programs to help support critical adult education initiatives.

Overall, these programs will build in-demand skills, connect workers and learners to quality jobs, and drive employer engagement in talent development through job training for individuals who want to and are available for work, to provide assistance to households, and to provide aid to impacted industries, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations to respond to the negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency through the provision of related educational and job training services.