Statewide Education Sector Partnership Launch

Nov. 8, 2018 - On Oct. 25 more than 65 participants gathered in Denver to launch the first Statewide Education Sector Partnership. The partnership was convened by industry champions across the education continuum (early childhood, K-12 and higher education) with support from the CWDC. The launch of this partnership acknowledges the education sector as a significant source of employment for local and regional communities and a foundation for Colorado’s economy, and seeks to align state level education entities as an industry to tackle workforce issues and develop career pathways.

The Statewide Education Sector Partnership will serve as a model for regional education sector partnerships and set the tone for strategic leadership and response partners across the state. In addition to identifying a set of state-level actions needed to strengthen the education industry, this statewide partnership will serve as the home for career pathway building in education and the statewide connection point for regional education partnerships.

Launch champions of the sector partnership included Katy Anthes (Commissioner of Education, CDE), Mary Anne Snyder (Director, CDHS), and Dan Baer (Executive Director, CDHE). The conversation was facilitated by Emily Lesh, a national expert in sector partnerships. At the launch meeting, participants were grouped into two categories: strategic leaders with statewide influence that were active participants in setting the agenda and state strategy, and the response team of individuals with regional or local influence who will be called upon to implement strategy within their spheres of influence once action areas are defined.

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After opening remarks and introductions at the launch event, Emily Lesh and CWDC Director Lee Wheeler-Berliner discussed the importance of focusing on education as an industry, highlighting the idea that education providers are interdependent across the education continuum. They also reviewed statewide data regarding the role education plays in Colorado’s economy. Significantly, the education industry is the fourth largest employer in the state with a total of 225,070 employees.

Ms. Lesh then facilitated discussion among the strategic leaders on the major trends influencing and driving the growth of the Education Sector in Colorado. Trends identified included difficulties in retaining the current workforce and new opportunities for distance learning. The idea of honor being attached to the profession was also addressed. Throughout the meeting, the partnership champions and other strategic leaders emphasized the importance of honoring educators in order to attract and retain talent in education professions.

The remainder of the meeting was dedicated to prioritizing areas for shared action and committing to next steps. Strategic leaders identified five areas for collective action that will best prepare them to take advantage of trends influencing the industry. Participants agreed that two cross-cutting themes should be woven into each action item: compensation within education and engagement of educators in partnership conversations.

Identified areas for action included:

  • Skill Building and Pathways: Develop pathways and alternative pathways for individuals to enter and stay in education careers.
  • Map System: Map the existing education system, including on and off ramps, to inform what points of influence will have the largest impact and aid in the identification of barriers.
  • Public Relations: Unified messaging across education can elevate the image of education careers across the state.
  • Policy and Legislation: Align existing advocacy efforts in order to build the industry as a whole and approach legislators with a unified voice.
  • Compensation: Begin tackling the big issue of compensation, and come together to further define what can be done to address this pressing problem.

Over the next months, teams of strategic leaders will convene to develop action plans for each of the areas listed above.

The CWDC was energized by the ideas and passion of those in the room at the launch event, and we look forward to continuing on with this important work. Thank you to everyone who helped make the launch successful and for your ongoing engagement!