Colorado Awarded $1.8 Million to Expand Apprenticeship Programs

For Immediate Release

Date:    October 21, 2016
Contact:    Cher Haavind at 303-318-8003 or Bill Thoennes at 303-318-8004
Office of Government, Policy and Public Relations

(DENVER) – The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded $1.8 Million to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to expand and strengthen apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeships play a vital role in preparing the state’s workforce with the knowledge, qualifications and competencies they need to ensure Colorado maintains a strong and highly skilled workforce.

The grant will help apprenticeships and career-based learning programs grow and expand as outreach is made to low-income adults, individuals with disabilities, women, and minorities who have too often been left out of apprenticeship efforts in in-demand fields.

The grant dollars will also make apprenticeship programs available in school districts across Colorado.  For many high school students, uncertain of the future, a career pathway model that was developed in Switzerland will give them an opportunity to pursue a classroom education along with an apprenticeship.  It is an alternative pathway to a rewarding career.

In addition, there are an estimated 110,000 youth in Colorado who are not connected to either work or school.  For them, an apprenticeship can move them beyond that first rung on a career ladder.

Apprenticeships are often assumed to be restricted to traditional industries such as Construction and Manufacturing but, in reality, they can prepare people in such diverse industries as Information Technology, Health Care, Energy, Aerospace and more.

The advantage to Colorado industries is obvious.  Apprenticeships offer businesses a talent pool of applicants with job-related experience, allowing employers to save significant sums in recruitment and training costs.  However, a robust apprenticeship system presents just as many advantages to Colorado workers, enhancing their skill set and self-esteem and increasing their value in the workforce.  Apprenticeships provide a highly cost-effective mechanism for developing workplace skills and reducing unemployment.

The work ahead will require a diverse group of stakeholders to come together in a coordinated team effort.  The Business-Experiential Learning (BEL) Commission and Colorado’s Workforce Development Council (a part of the Department of Labor and Employment) will serve as the advisory board for the pilot efforts and convene workforce professionals, educators, economic developers, businesses and other stakeholders to build capacity and promote registered apprenticeships within industries.

“Workforce development and apprenticeships are critically linked and this $1.8 million grant will provide great support to Colorado's efforts,” says Ellen Golombek, Executive Director of the Department of Labor and Employment.  “The creation of work-based training that meets the needs of Colorado employers and workers alike is key to Governor Hickenlooper’s call to build up the middle class.  When apprenticeships grow in Colorado, opportunities grow with them.”