Governor Polis Promotes Opportunity for Young Adults, Highlights Success of the Big Blur
DENVER - Building upon commitments to create an economy that works for all, Governor Jared Polis highlighted his administration’s implementation of “The Big Blur,” which argues for the need to erase the dividing line between high school, college, and career training and to open the opportunity for all students. In a new case study published by Jobs for the Future, Colorado’s early leadership and potential for further success with The Big Blur are laid out.
“We’re excited to reimagine how we can get more Coloradans into good-paying jobs and ensure that we have a workforce to meet the needs for our future. We are encouraging Colorado employers and educational institutions to find innovative ways to work together to best serve learners and develop the employees that they need to succeed, helping them gain skills and earn more in the process.”
Under Governor Polis’ leadership, workforce development has been a top priority. In 2021 and 2022, in partnership with the legislature, Colorado invested historic American Rescue Plan Act funding to expand access to work-based learning opportunities, including apprenticeships, as well as invest in career navigation services and outreach to support job-seekers. Governor Polis has also taken executive action to make skills and expertise interchangeable with degree requirements in most state jobs, and to expand apprenticeship opportunities within the state workforce.
The Big Blur is a partnership between industry, education, and government. In his 2023 State of the State address, Governor Polis noted that there were two job vacancies for every individual looking for a position. The changing nature of work, along with historic investments in infrastructure, technology, and science made by President Biden’s administration, have created unprecedented demand that Colorado is prepared to meet.
“Nearly 75% of jobs in Colorado require postsecondary education. As a state, we’re creating pathways so that all Coloradans see a place for themselves in higher education—whether that’s getting college credit while still in high school through concurrent enrollment, in an apprenticeship, through a certificate in the trades, or an associate degree and beyond,” said Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. “We’ve seen success in programs like Care Forward Colorado—a state program that covers costs for entry-level healthcare training—and we are excited to bring in new areas of study so more Coloradans can get the training and education they need to be fulfilled and successful citizens.”
“We know we need to do more than just tinker around the edges of our existing systems that help students earn college credits and a quality credential while they’re still in high school,” said Education Commissioner Katy Anthes. “We’re excited to see the innovative thinking coming out of the Secondary, Postsecondary and Work-based Learning Integration Task Force, and we look forward to implementing a learner-centered approach where students explore career options and prepare for good paying jobs through a single, agile education and training system.”
“The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment is proud to implement the Big Blur through its expansion of work-based learning through the Work-Based Learning Incentive Program and launch of Apprenticeship Colorado (the State Apprenticeship Agency), as well as the promotion of skills-based hiring, career coaching, and job quality through the Colorado Workforce Development Council and the public workforce system,” said Joe Barela, Executive Director of CDLE, “As the future of work continues to unfold, CDLE is working to ensure that every Coloradan worker has access to opportunity.”
“Companies often choose Colorado for relocation and expansion because we have one of the most talented workforces in the nation. By creating new career pathways and training workers in the skills our industry partners require, the Big Blur will connect more Coloradans to good-paying jobs and contribute to our strong and growing economy,” said Eve Lieberman, Executive Director of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT).
Colorado is investing $100 million each year in supporting high school students in work-based learning, apprenticeship, early credential attainment and earning college credit. The state’s task force is currently meeting to put forth recommendations on how we can better use these existing investments to modernize education to be more responsive to our business and economic needs.