Press Release: State Labor Department's Workforce Programs Help Coloradans During Pandemic

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For Immediate Release

Date: December 8, 2020
Contact: Office of Government, Policy and Public Relations -

State Labor Department's Workforce Programs
Help Coloradans During Pandemic

Report highlights efficacy of Colorado’s workforce services

Colorado’s recently released Workforce Innovations and Opportunity Act (WIOA) annual report, Driving Colorado Forward Together, highlights the impacts of workforce development investments on Colorado’s individuals and businesses.

In Program Year 2019, workforce center customers secured higher incomes and employers who used the centers’ services saw cost savings. Throughout Colorado, 313,370 job seekers and 9,045 businesses were served by local workforce centers in PY2019. Of those job seekers, 63.2% successfully found employment and 64.5% retained employment one year later. Additionally, more than $453 million in wages were returned to the economy through the Colorado public workforce system.

“We are very aware that Coloradans statewide are struggling to keep afloat during these challenging times,” said Joe Barela, Executive Director of CDLE. “As public servants, we have worked to process claims, deliver benefits, fight fraud, and provide workforce services to advance Colorado’s economic recovery. We will continue our strategic and targeted efforts so that Coloradans affected by the pandemic have the tools they need to weather the economic downturn. I encourage Colorado workers and employers to reach out to one of the 52 Workforce Centers to access no-cost services provided by expert staff.”

Highlights from the report include:
Layoff Mitigation Assistance: Prior to the pandemic, CDLE’s Rapid Response Outplacement and Layoff Transition Services program had served 364 companies who employed 42,508 employees. The program, which offers businesses workforce services, guidance, and information related to restructuring and/or downsizing, has since been instrumental in serving the three industries most impacted by the pandemic, including retail, food and accommodations, and manufacturing. Since the advent of the pandemic, the Rapid Response team has served 186 companies who had to lay off staff. Permanent layoffs increased by 3,696 from March to June 2020, and temporary layoffs swelled to 14,497, with furloughs accounting for 3,390. Thanks to their efforts, the team has helped reinstate 492 jobs and avert 33 layoffs.

Disaster Recovery National Dislocated Worker Grant (COResponds): In April 2020, the CDLE was awarded a grant to provide temporary subsidized disaster-relief employment in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Colorado will place 332 workers in jobs that help stem the rise of COVID-19, and provide clean-up and humanitarian assistance, including actions to save lives, alleviate suffering, and maintain human dignity.

Colorado Disaster Reemployment Grant: Colorado also received a second grant to serve dislocated workers. All the local workforce areas will provide services in ways that are responsive to the impacts and realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of this grant is to minimize employment and economic disruptions to individuals whose jobs have been impacted. Eight hundred individuals will be served through this grant. Individuals may receive career services and training services, which could include apprenticeships, work-based learning information, entrepreneurial training, and general support.

Using Data to Determine Next Steps: To ensure that economic recovery efforts are strategic, the Workforce Intelligence Data Experts (WIDE), a group of workforce data analysts, has researched the skills gap that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. This research used data on skill transferability to allow sector partnerships to identify and define training on-ramps and career pathways for laid-off restaurant workers with low educational attainment. An emphasis was placed on the importance of creating upskilling opportunities to help fill the current needs of business, which includes demand for IT professionals and consumer infrastructure occupations.

Increasing Access to Opportunity: From 2016 to 2019, Colorado applied for and received 11 national discretionary grants from the U.S. Department of Labor, totaling more than $29.5 million, including one for the Pathway Home Project ($4,000,000), which provides justice-involved individuals with job readiness services, increasing their chances of finding a job after their release. Primary partners for this work include CDLE, the Department of Corrections, and local workforce areas.

Barela added, “Now is the time for unemployed, underemployed and furloughed individuals to explore employment and upskilling opportunities to be competitive in Colorado’s economy moving forward.”

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