Press Release: Education and Training Innovation Will Help Prepare Coloradans for the Future of Education and Work

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For Immediate Release | October 5, 2021

In order to support the development of a career-responsive education and training system, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE), in partnership with the Governor’s Office, the Colorado Department of Higher Education, the Colorado Department of Education, the Colorado Workforce Development Council, and business stakeholders, created the Office of Education and Training Innovation. 

Today, employers struggle to find the talent they need to succeed. And while there are enough people to fill these open positions, too few workers have the skills these positions require. By increasing collaboration between business, education, the state, and workforce development, the work will support current and future efforts to equip Coloradans with in-demand skills. The office will also work with partners and stakeholders to increase the adoption of on-the-job, or work-based training, such as apprenticeship. 

“The future of education and work demand lifelong learning,” said Misti Ruthven, the office’s Director. “As automation, artificial intelligence, globalization, and digitalization continue to transform the labor market, workers of all ages will need to upskill or reskill in order to remain competitive in today and tomorrow’s economy. Educational institutions, working closely with their counterparts in workforce and business, will play a critical role in helping them acquire these skills.”

Early goals include supporting policy, strategy, and collaboration between education and business; building coherence between state agency and business efforts in order to better connect the supply and demand sides of our economy; identifying myths and misconceptions that inform the education and workforce systems; and aligning existing on-the-job and work-based learning programs and pilots, such as apprenticeship. This collaboration extends to partnering with CDLE’s Office of the Future of Work and will support the associated education focus as a coordinated approach for Colorado.

“The creation of the office recognizes the need to fortify connections between education, workforce, government, and other stakeholders,” said Noel Ginsburg, chair of the Business Experiential Leadership Commission and CEO of CareerWise Colorado. “I’m particularly encouraged by its focus on earn-and-learn programs, like apprenticeship, to create more opportunity for more people—and ultimately a more equitable economy.”

“Many in the workforce development and education spaces have referred to the disruptions we’re seeing today as the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’,” said Joe Barela, Executive Director of CDLE. “The comparison makes sense: like people in the late 19th century, massive shifts in the way we work have caused consternation and worry among workers and employers alike. Through the Office of Education and Training Innovation, we seek to lessen their fears by proposing workforce development solutions that will equip both with the skills, talent, and resources they need to ensure our communal economic prosperity.”

The office’s theory of action emphasizes the importance of skills-based hiring practices, which prioritize the skills candidates have and the skills they can learn over their background, and work-based learning, including apprenticeships, internships, residences, and incumbent worker training, which provide hands-on, real-world experience.

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