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Press Release: Colorado Apprenticeship Awards Highlight Importance of Programs

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Denver -- On Tuesday, November 16, 16 people and organizations dedicated to the advancement of apprenticeships were honored at the fourth annual Colorado Apprenticeship Awards, a virtual event hosted by leaders in the workforce and apprenticeship spaces. 

“Creating and developing robust apprenticeship programs requires intense collaboration between employers, educators, government agencies, and countless others,” said Noel Ginsburg, chair of the BEL Commission, as well as founder and CEO of CareerWise, a nonprofit that connects high school students with apprenticeship programs. “By working together, they are able to create programs that help employers address their skills gaps and strengthen their talent pipelines. Perhaps more importantly, they help workers gain in-demand skills while earning a paycheck, enabling them to enter growing industries, and increasing their ability to support themselves and their families.”

“When employers host apprenticeship programs, they’re not only ensuring their future prosperity, they’re also doing a social good,” said Joe Barela, executive director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE). “We know that, while talent is everywhere, opportunity is not. At CDLE, our mission is to promote a thriving employment environment with opportunity for every Coloradans to prosper. Apprenticeships help us get there.”

The Colorado Apprenticeship Awards come during Colorado Apprenticeship Month and after the recent signing of HB21-1007 which creates a State Apprenticeship Agency (SAA) within CDLE. The agency, housed in CDLE’s Office of Future of Work (OFOW) will serve as the primary point of contact with the United States Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship; accelerate the adoption, promotion, and development of apprenticeship programs; provide support; and be responsible for programs’ compliance with state and federal laws and standards. The director of the SAA will establish a State Apprenticeship Council (SAC) and Interagency Advisory Committee (IAC) to advance the work. Learn more about this effort at the Apprenticeship Colorado website.

The winners included apprentices, mentors, programs, employers, champions, and partnerships who have demonstrated a remarkable commitment to increasing apprenticeships and expanding access to apprenticeship programs.

Award Winners

Apprenticeship Programs

  • RK Industries
  • Donald G. White Training Center
  • Independent Electrical Contractors Rocky Mountain


  • Tolmar
  • E Light Electric Services, Inc.


  • Casey Hastings, Arapahoe Community College
  • Anne Allen, Centura Health
  • Stacey Abel, Craig Hospital


  • Vail Valley Partnership and Eagle County CareerWise Youth Apprenticeship Program
  • Telluride Foundation and West End Apprenticeship Program


  • Nicole Jones, City and County of Denver
  • Eric Dunker, Arapahoe Community College
  • Front Range Community College


  • Hanna Fernandez-Celis, Pinnacol Assurance
  • Sayara Esslam, Red Rocks Community College
  • Brittany Bustos, Western Colorado Area Health Education Center

The event was made possible through the collaboration of many partners, including representatives from the BEL Commission, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, CareerWise Colorado, the Colorado Department of Higher Education, the Colorado Department of Education, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, the Colorado Community College System, and the Colorado Workforce Development Council. 

To view the Governor’s proclamation in full, click here. Sign up for the Office of Future of Work’s Apprenticeship training and information mailing list here.

About the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s (CDLE) vision is to create a working economy that elevates all of Colorado. In pursuit of this vision, the 1,300-person state agency’s six divisions help the state’s employers and workers prosper: employers benefit from CDLE’s work to improve Colorado’s talent pipeline, its recruitment assistance, its economic updates, and more. The agency helps workers with and without disabilities pursue their career goals through job training, job search assistance, and career counseling. CDLE works to help workers, employers, and communities thrive by ensuring fair labor practices, providing unemployment insurance, and protecting Colorado communities through consumer protection and safety programs. CDLE is primarily funded through federal and cash funds. Factors that influence its work and funding include federal legislation, budgets, and the state’s economic health.

About the Colorado Workforce Development Council
The vision of the Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC) is that every Colorado employer has access to a skilled workforce and every Coloradan has the opportunity for meaningful employment, resulting in individual and statewide economic prosperity. The CWDC’s mission is to enhance and sustain a skills-based talent development network that meets the needs of employers, workers, job seekers, and learners for today and tomorrow. The CWDC's values are equity, agility, and integration. The council was formed under the federal Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and is responsible for the continuous improvement of the workforce system, oversight of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds, and ensuring a statewide strategic vision created from the bottom up through Council members and local partners. The CWDC also publishes the Colorado Talent Pipeline Report each year, which identifies the areas of growing demand and opportunity, key features of the current labor force, and strategies to balance the supply and demand equation for talent. 

About CareerWise

CareerWise Colorado’s youth apprenticeship system creates new, diverse talent pipelines for employers and new career pathways for students to access high-demand, high-paying careers. Student apprentices work toward high school graduation and earn postsecondary credit, industry credentials or both in their chosen career path. Established by the state of Colorado’s Business Experiential-Learning (BEL) Commission in 2016, CareerWise works with more than 120 employers and 16 school districts to facilitate apprenticeship. More information is available at