Talent Development Glossary

We work better together when we operate from a common understanding of key terms. To amplify our collective efforts, we maintain a glossary of key terms related to talent development. These definitions are approved by the Governor's Workforce and Education Cabinet members.

We invite you to complete this form to suggest updates to the glossary.

Please note that this is a living document and it contains:

  • Red asterisk indicates proposed new term and associated definition
  • Blue asterisk indicates proposed update to definition previously approved by the Governor’s Workforce and Education Working Group


Adult Basic Education (ABE). A component of adult education; instruction in basic skills below the 9th grade level (0-8.9).

Adult Education.*Services or instruction below the postsecondary level for individuals who have attained 16 years of age and are not enrolled or required to be enrolled in secondary school under State law PLUS one of the following: 1) lack sufficient mastery of basic educational skills to enable the individuals to function effectively in society; 2) do not have a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent and have not achieved an equivalent level of education; OR 3) are unable to speak, read, or write the English language.

Adult Secondary Education (ASE). A component of adult education; instruction in basic skills at or above the 9th grade level (9.0-12.9), Adult High School (AHS), and high school equivalency preparation.

Apprenticeship. An employer-driven model and form of experiential learning that combines on-the-job learning as a paid employee with related classroom instruction in order to increase an apprentice’s skill level and wages. (See pre-apprenticeship, youth apprenticeship, registered apprenticeship)

Business Experiential Learning (BEL) Commission.* The Business Experiential-Learning Commission will develop, evaluate and implement a systemic solution for integrated work-based education and training to meet the needs of Colorado’s economy. The Commission focuses on three main areas: engaging business involvement in educating and training students and workers in partnership with the State’s K-16 education system, workforce system and related civic agencies; creating electronic access for students, interns, apprentices and workers to document skills they have obtained in the workplace, and to share that information with the K-16 system to support curriculum development; and leveraging existing resources to create a portal of information to connect students, job seekers, schools, employers, and civic agencies with experiential learning, training opportunities, and careers.

Career and College Readiness (CCR).* Career- and college-ready high school graduates have the skills, knowledge and abilities needed to succeed in life, whether attending college or starting a job. This readiness is based on a larger, community-focused approach that offers students the academic preparation, skills training, life planning, and social support and resources, beginning as children and continuing through adulthood.

Career and Technical Education (CTE).* Educational opportunities for students in middle school, high school, and college that focuses on contextualizing academic standards and providing relevant technical knowledge and skills needed to prepare for careers in current or emerging professions or further education. In Colorado, CTE programs of study align to six sector areas: Agriculture, Natural Resources & Energy; STEM, Arts, Design & Information Technology; Skilled Trades & Technical Sciences; Health Science, Criminal Justice & Public Safety; Hospitality, Human Services & Education; Business, Marketing & Public Administration. (See - www.coloradostateplan.com www.acteonline.org )

Career Awareness and Exploration.* Career awareness and exploration helps individuals build awareness of the variety of careers available and provides experiences that help inform an individual's’ career decisions. Activities include: career counseling; career planning; career fairs; career presentations; industry speakers; informational interviews; mentoring; and worksite tours.

Career Counseling and Planning.* Career development professionals provide services that are outside of what typically would be defined as career counseling or career planning. Some of these activities are perhaps more accurately labeled as career consultation activities. (See work-based learning)

Career Fair.* A job fair, also referred commonly as a career fair or career expo, is speed dating for companies and professionals job seekers. A job fair is an event in which employers, recruiters, and schools give information to potential employees and learn about available career opportunities. (See work-based learning)

Career Pathway. A series of connected education and training programs, work experiences, and student support services that enable individuals to secure a job or advance in a demand industry or occupation. (See Career Pathway Systems Building, Career Pathway Program, Career Pathway Map)

Career Pathway Map. An online or paper map of how occupations connect to one another and what education and training is needed to prepare students or job seekers for occupations. Statewide career pathway maps focusing on the top industries in Colorado will be accessed on Careers in Colorado.

Career Pathway Program. A career pathway program is a set of stackable credits and credentials, combined with support services that enables students to secure industry-relevant skills, certifications, and credentials and advance to higher levels of education and employment.

Career Pathway System. A career pathway system engages education and training providers in a continuous conversation with one another and with industry to ensure that students move seamlessly through and among educational institutions and work-based experiences to build skills and credentials that meet industry demand and prepare them for jobs and careers.

Career Preparation.* Career preparation supports career readiness and includes extended direct interaction with professionals from industry and the community. Activities include: clinical experiences; credit-for-work experiences; internships; and project-based learning. (See work-based learning)

Career Training.* Career training occurs at a work site and prepares individuals for employment. Activities include: pre-apprenticeship; apprenticeship; on-the-job training; and employee development. (See work-based learning)

Chief Elected Official. Appointed representative of elected officials in a local area.

Class. A generic term for either a workshop, or one course of a program of learning for English language skills, basic or remedial academic skills, High School Equivalency preparation, computer literacy, occupational skills, etc. May or may not result in a credential.

Clinical Experiences.* One of the more critical experiences for healthcare science students is exposure to patients in a clinical setting. This type of experience will allow you to ensure that you enjoy working with patients and that you are well suited for a career in medicine. (See work-based learning)

College. A public 2-year or, public or private 4-year institution.

College and Career Readiness Standards. Includes: 1) a representation of the knowledge, cognitive strategies, and employability skills a student needs in order to enroll and succeed — without remediation — in a credit-bearing course at a postsecondary institution, or in a high quality certificate program that enables students to enter a career pathway with potential future advancement; and 2) demonstration of knowledge and skills (competencies) needed to succeed in postsecondary settings and to advance in career pathways as lifelong learners and contributing citizens. (See www.cde.state.co.us/postsecondary/grad-menu)

Colorado First and Existing Industry Grants (CFEI). The Colorado First and Existing Industry job training assistance grant program is designed to support economic development efforts by enhancing companies’ economic competitiveness, creating and maintaining quality jobs, and promoting job retention throughout Colorado.

Colorado State Agency Abbreviations. 

  •  CCCS, Community College System
  • CDA, Department of Agriculture
  • CDE, Department of Education
  • CDHE, Department of Higher Education
  • CDHS, Department of Human Services
  • CDLE, Department of Labor and Employment
  • CDOT, Department of Transportation
  • CDPHE, Department of Public Health and Environment
  • CMVA, Department of Military Veterans Affairs
  • DOC, Department of Corrections
  • HCPF, Department of Health Care Policy and Financing
  • DOLA, Department of Local Affairs
  • DORA, Department of Regulatory Affairs
  • Gov’s Office, Governor’s Policy Office
  • OEDIT, Office of Economic Development and International Trade
  • OIT, Office of Information Technology 

Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC).* The vision of CWDC is that every Colorado business has access to a skilled workforce and every Coloradan has access to meaningful employment, resulting in statewide economic vitality. CWDC’s mission is to facilitate the creation and sustainability of a business‐led Colorado talent development system that appropriately integrates the work of economic development, education, training, and workforce development to meet the needs of businesses, workers, job seekers, and students.

Community-Based Service.* Providing community-based services refers to having high quality services accessible to families in the least restrictive setting possible. A community-based system of care requires systems to see the home, school, and neighborhood of the family from an asset perspective.

Competency-based Education. Transitioning away from seat time, in favor of a structure that creates flexibility, allows students to progress as they demonstrate mastery of academic content, regardless of time, place, or pace of learning. Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs. Competency-based strategies provide flexibility in the way that credit can be earned or awarded, and provide students with personalized learning opportunities. These strategies include online and blended learning, dual enrollment, early college high schools, project-based learning, and credit recovery, among others. Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge, along with the development of important skills and dispositions. Competencies include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that empower students and assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students. (See www.ed.gov/oii-news/competency-based-learning-or-personalized-learning)

Competency-based Training. Training programs with identified and defined competencies through a job/task analysis and directly related to the job/role. Organized learning activities should be structured and wherever possible, self-paced with open entry and open exit. Measures or tests of competency attainment should be observable, repeatable, and agreed to in advance. Work experience process schedules and related instruction outlines should include the approximate time/hours or minimum - maximum times/hours for each competency attained in order to document successful completion. (See www.doleta.gov/oa/apprentices.cfm)

Comprehensive One Stop Center (aka American Job Center, Workforce Center). Workforce Investment and Opportunities Act (WIOA) mandated center in each local area that provides an array of employment services, connects customers to work related training and education, and provides access to the services of all required partners. (For more information see www.doleta.gov/wioa/Docs/WIOA_OneStop_FactSheet.pdf)

Credential.* Document, certificate or qualification recognizing attainment of measurable skills.

Credit-For-Work-Experiences.* Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) means credit for work experience, and Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), refers to the assessments required to approve the work place learning for credit. CPL and PLA are distinctly different from transfer or applied credit, which recognizes and allows a student to apply relevant college course credit from a different school or earlier course work to a student's credential requirements. (See work-based learning)

Economic Development Regions. 14 regions identified by OEDIT as a part of the Colorado Blueprint; consistent with the DOLA Regions.

Educational Component of Work-based Learning. Learning to inform participant of career pathway or skills within a pathway. This may vary greatly depending upon context, e.g., on the job training, classroom-based training program, etc.

Employee Development.* Employee development is defined as a process where the employee with the support of his/her employer undergoes various training programs to enhance his/her skills and acquire new knowledge and skills. (See work-based learning)

Experiential-Learning. A process through which one develops knowledge and skills from direct experiences outside a traditional academic setting. This can include internships and other professional work experiences. Well-planned, supervised, and assessed experiential learning programs can promote interdisciplinary learning, civic engagement, career development, cultural awareness, leadership, and other professional and intellectual skills. (See work-based learning)

Externship. A form of experiential learning in the workplace that provides for the application of knowledge and skills in real world environments for the development of career and college readiness.

Incumbent Worker. An individual already employed by a qualifying employer.

Incumbent Worker Training. Training for an individual already employed by a qualifying employer.

Individual Career and Academic Plans (ICAP).* A multi-year process that intentionally guides students and families in the exploration of career, academic and postsecondary opportunities. With the support of adults, students develop the awareness, knowledge, attitudes, and skills to create their own meaningful and powerful pathways to be career and college ready.

Industry.* Any general business activity or commercial enterprise that can be isolated from others, such as the tourist industry or the entertainment industry. Colorado looks at Industry by 14 economic regions and the 14 major industries that drive our economy. (See choosecolorado.com/)

Industry-defined Competencies. Specific knowledge, skills, and abilities that industry leaders have collectively identified as being critical to performing a specific occupation or group of occupations effectively. These competencies are both foundational and task specific.

Individual Education Plan (IEP). A plan required by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for students receiving special education services. The plan details a student’s goals and the services available to support the students success.

Intermediary.* A term used to refer to organizations that serve to broker business to education, economic development and workforce development in the talent development network.

Internship. An opportunity in real world environments for exposure to the requirements of a particular occupation or industry, the work environment and the behavioral expectations for success on the job. Such work experiences are not expected to provide formal training for occupational skills, although some skills may be learned. (See work-based learning)

Job Seeker.* A person who is unemployed and looking for work.

Job Shadowing. A work experience option where students learn about a job by walking through the work day as a shadow to a competent worker. Variations include: 1) Virtual Job Shadowing. Digital version of job shadowing that allows an individual to observe an occupation through the use of videos. This is a specific software platform available to customers of workforce centers and other job exploration organizations; and 2) Job Simulation. Version of career exploration that allows an individual to participate and gain experience in aspects of an occupation through simulation. (See work-based learning)

Labor Market Area. An economically integrated geographic area within which individuals can reside and find employment within a reasonable distance or can readily change employment without changing their place of residence.

Labor Market Information (LMI). 1) The body of information that deals with the functioning of labor markets and the determination of the demand for and supply of labor. It includes, but is not limited to, such key factors as changes in the level and/or composition of economic activity, the population, employment and unemployment, income and earnings, wage rates, and fringe benefits. 2) A department within the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment that manages Labor Market Information.

Local Elected Official. Locally elected government official in the context of the public workforce system, including city and county mayor/or appointed representative of the city and county, board of county commissioner, or acquainted representative of local board of county commissioner.

Mentorships. A form of experiential learning that provides for the application of knowledge and skills in real world environments for the development of career and college readiness. (See work-based learning)

Mentor. Cognitive coaching and stability through a career journey provided by one individual to another.

Sponsor. Help create sustainable funding of career pathway opportunities, usually a company.

Middle Skills Jobs. Jobs that generally require some education and training beyond high school but less than a bachelor’s degree.

On-the-Job Training. Training in the public or private sector that is given to a paid employee while he or she is engaged in productive work and provides knowledge and skills essential to the full and adequate performance on the job. (See work-based learning)

One-Stop Center. A facility that makes a wide range of the system's services available at a single site, through self-service or with staff help. The number of centers, the services offered, and the manner in which they are given will vary from one area to another, according to local needs and resources. (See Satellite On-Stop Center, wsd.dli.mt.gov/wia/wioa-glossary-terms-definitions.pdf)

One-Stop Operator. An entity performing specific functions or services defined by a local board in an American Jobs Center/Workforce center. One or more entities designated or certified under section 121(d) of WIOA. One-stop operators are responsible at minimum for the coordination of all activities in a one-stop center.

One-Stop System. The network of workforce products and services that meets business and job seeker needs in whatever manner and location is most effective and convenient for the customer, within a local workforce development area. (See wsd.dli.mt.gov/wia/wioa-glossary-terms-definitions.pdf)

Postsecondary. Educational options following the successful graduation from high school or high school equivalency to include but not limited to: credential programs, 2-year colleges, 4- year colleges, training programs, the armed forces, or the workforce.

Postsecondary Workforce Readiness (PWR).* Colorado high school graduates demonstrate the knowledge and skills (competencies) needed to succeed in postsecondary settings and to advance in career pathways as lifelong learners and contributing citizens. (See career and college readiness)

Pre-Apprenticeship.* Services and programs, often including classroom instruction, designed to prepare individuals to enter and succeed in Registered Apprenticeship programs. These programs should have a documented partnership with at least one Registered Apprenticeship program sponsor and together, they expand the participant's career pathway opportunities with industry-based training coupled with classroom instruction. (See www.doleta.gov/OA/preapprentice.cfm; work-based learning)

Project-Based Learning.* Is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge. (See work-based learning)

Public Partners. A group of non-industry partners engaged in a public-private partnership who work together with industry leaders to develop a coordinated response to the needs of industry. Partners include decision makers in workforce development, secondary education, postsecondary education, human services, vocational rehabilitation, and other community partners.

Public Workforce System. A network of federal, state, and local offices, funded through federal legislation workforce legislation (WIOA) and local supplements that function to support economic expansion and develop the talent of our nation’s workforce. (See one-stop)

Registered Apprenticeship. A registered apprenticeship is an employer-driven model that combines on-the-job learning with related classroom instruction that increases an apprentice’s skill level and wages and is registered/approved with the US Department of Labor. (See work-based learning)

Satellite One-Stop Center.* A One-Stop Career Center that offers access to limited employment and training services, and/or offers services specific to the needs of a particular target group(s).

Sector Partnership. An industry-specific regional partnership led by business in partnership with economic development, education, and workforce development.

Sector Strategy. Models for public-private partnerships that utilize a series of tools and policies to promote and support the development and expansion of industry-led initiatives ideally through a sector partnership.

Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). The Senior Community Service Employment Program promotes useful employment training opportunities in community service organizations for persons with low incomes who are 55 years of age or older, pursuant to a grant received under Title V of the Older Americans Act. Eligible participants are provided subsidized wages, training for skill enhancement or acquisition of skills, personal and employment counseling, and assistance in obtaining unsubsidized employment. The State enters into contracts with local community providers to implement this program.

Stackable Credentials. A credential is considered “stackable” when it is part of a sequence of credentials that can be accumulated over time and move an individual along a career pathway or up a career ladder assisting in college and career readiness. (See wdr.doleta.gov/directives/attach/TEGL15-10acc.pdf)

Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM).* Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are driving our global marketplace. By 2020, the demand for STEM professionals is expected to add 1 million new jobs in the United States. Colorado is home to one of the fastest-growing economies among all states, and we need to ensure today’s learners and tomorrow’s leaders are passionate about STEM in Colorado and recognize their potential as the basis for stimulating and rewarding careers.

TalentFOUND.* TalentFOUND is an initiative designed to bring together all the systems, partners, programs, and initiatives of the Colorado talent development network under one centralized access point to ensure that students, job seekers, and workers have access to meaningful careers, and businesses have access to skilled talent.

Talent Development. Building the knowledge, skills, and abilities of others and helping them develop and achieve their potential so that they and the organizations they may work for can succeed and grow.

Talent Development Network. The network of all systems, partners, programs, and initiatives working together to ensure that students, job seekers, workers have access to meaningful careers and businesses have sufficient access to skilled talent. (See TalentFOUND)

Talent Pipeline. An identified group of currently employed and potential workers to fill positions requiring various skills, knowledge, and abilities in our state.

Talent Pool. An identified group of job candidates that meets a specific set of criteria to be entered into an elite job-ready category in Connecting Colorado.

Trade Association.* Is an organization founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry. An industry trade association participates in public relations activities such with a focus on collaboration between companies. Associations may offer other services, such as producing conferences, networking or charitable events or offering classes or educational materials. Many associations are non-profit organizations bylaws and directed by officers who are also members.

Trades. A skilled job, typically one requiring manual skills and special training.

Training. A structured program of instruction in a classroom setting or a work setting designed to increase or upgrade occupational skills that prepare students for emerging and current workforce opportunities, and most often resulting in a recognized credential.

Transitional Jobs (aka Paid Work Experience). Time-limited, subsidized employment in the private, nonprofit, or public sectors.

Unions. An organized association of workers formed to protect and further their rights and interests; a labor union.

Work-based Learning. Learning opportunities that occur in part or in whole in the workplace and provide the learner with hands-on, real world experience. Work-based learning opportunities include but are not limited to: internships, apprenticeships, and residencies and incumbent worker training. (See Work-based Learning Continuum; Career Awareness and Exploration; Career Preparation; Career Training)

Work Experience. Any experience that a person gains while working in a specific field or occupation.

Workforce Development Board (WDB).* WDBs are part of the Public Workforce System and their role is to develop regional strategic plans and set funding priorities for their area. Think of your local WDB as your link to the public workforce system. As one of their many functions, many WDBs facilitate partnerships between local businesses with similar training needs. WDBs also rely on labor market information to develop sector strategies that focus resources on a particular high growth industry for their area, often involving skill training for local businesses. More than 50 percent of each WDB’s members must come from the business community. In addition, WDBs are required to have representation from local community colleges and other training providers, as well as elected officials and workforce program leaders. This ensures that current skill needs of local businesses are communicated to relevant training programs.

Workforce Center. (See One-Stop Center, directory)

Workforce Development System. (See Public Workforce System)

Worksite Tour.* A field trip is an opportunity for a class to leave the classroom to see class-related experiences away from the school campus. This short-term visit to a business or agency expands the learning opportunities for participating students. The field trip allows students to observe and investigate activities related to a specific subject and career development objective. It extends the learning environment beyond the school facility, thus emphasizing the relationship between school and work. (See work-based learning)

Workshop. A short term training session, (usually a few hours or days), to provide work search techniques, job retention, or other soft skill learning opportunities.

Youth Apprenticeship. Apprenticeships for 11th-12th grade students enrolled in a traditional K-12 environment. (See work-based learning)

Contact cwdc@state.co.us for questions or feedback on these terms