WORK Act Announces Fifth Cycle of Grants to Promote Training and Job Readiness Programs

The Department of Labor and Employment is now seeking grant applicants for the fifth cycle of the Skilled Worker Outreach, Recruitment, and Key Training (WORK) Act Grant. In Cycle 5, approximately $3 Million will be provided to eligible grantees.

Department of Labor and Employment Executive Director Joe Barela says that the WORK Act grant is designed to accelerate marketing efforts and increase Coloradans’ awareness of skilled worker training programs. “If you are expanding the scope of your program or building the quality of your curriculum to ensure that industry standards are being met; if you are reaching a new community or a new audience or struggling to increase enrollments, the WORK Act Grant can provide you with the funding necessary to fuel an outreach effort that will help training providers create a pathway to success and change lives,” he says. “We’re excited to help fund additional outreach and marketing efforts in Cycle 5. This grant is connecting some of Colorado’s fastest-growing and vital industries with a new generation of workers.”

Colorado lawmakers established the WORK Act Grant to connect growing industries with new talent, and to mitigate Colorado’s skilled worker shortage. This matching grant program provides funds to increase the awareness of and enrollment in Colorado’s skilled worker training programs. These training programs demonstrate that a four-year college degree is not the only prerequisite to a successful career.

Among the Denver training organizations to benefit from the WORK Act Grant was Master’s Apprentice, a program that prepares young people to successfully enter the construction trades as carpenters, electricians, plumbers, HVAC technician/sheet metal workers, and masons. In today’s economy, employers are looking for a blend of hard and soft skills. Master’s Apprentice, recognizing an industry need, added courses to its curriculum to show students how to resolve conflicts that might otherwise escalate and result in a job loss.

The curriculum, class structure, and recruiting strategies have resulted in a 90% job placement rate for Master’s Apprentice graduates. An individual who attended training at the Master’s Apprentice program recently wrote, “You learn a lot, not only about yourself, but about work ethic. The Master’s Apprentice gets you out into the field and you really learn how to fly.”

Work Options for Women (WOW) also benefited from WORK Act funds. WOW provides culinary skills and an ongoing support system to prepare students for a sustainable career in the food service industry. The organization used WORK Act funds to expand their recruitment and outreach efforts which resulted in significant increases in program enrollments and job placements. 

One program WOW offers is a fast-track training opportunity for women who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. Implemented after the organization saw the need to provide services and training for previously incarcerated populations in Denver, the Mobile Culinary Classroom delivers training to those living in halfway houses, who often have difficulty travelling to training facilities and following the same schedule every week. The mobile classroom is able to offer flexible training schedules and the supportive services to ensure program completion.

Those are just two examples of the enhanced training and outreach that WORK Act funding has made possible here in the Denver area. During Cycles 1 – 4, the grant provided $11 Million to 22 training providers serving diverse industries across Colorado including Culinary, Construction, Energy, Technology, Finance, Advanced Manufacturing, Health Care, and Transportation. Funds have been used for hiring and supporting recruiters, program branding, video production, digital and print marketing, and website development.

Organizations are encouraged to apply for WORK Act funding until the application closes on June 19, 2019. To learn more about the WORK Act Grant, and apply for funding, visit