HB 12-1061: The Skills for Jobs Act (Senate BLT version)
The Skills for Jobs Act
House Bill 12-1061
Testimony to the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee
Frank Waterous, Senior Policy Analyst
March 5, 2012
My name is Frank Waterous, and I am a senior policy analyst with the Bell Policy Center. The Bell is a non-partisan, non-profit research and policy organization, founded on progressive values and dedicated to expanding opportunity for all Coloradans.
The Bell Policy Center strongly supports House Bill 12-1061, the "Skills for Jobs Act." The annual reports required by this legislation will help match industry's need for skilled workers to the training provided in a broad range of post-secondary education and workforce programs. Counting the full scope of post-secondary credentials awarded in Colorado and identifying those areas in which new or expanded efforts are needed recognizes both the growing necessity of some level of post-secondary education and training beyond high school, and the fact that many well-paying and high-demand jobs require less than a four-year degree. The bill is an important first step in ensuring that our education and workforce programs meet labor market demands, provide Colorado workers with marketable 21st century skills and boost our economy.
The Skills for Jobs Act is good policy because it is strategic, responsive and inclusive.
- The bill is strategic because it takes a broad, forward-looking view of our state's workforce needs, compares this with our post-secondary credential production, identifies the gap between the two, and points the way toward actions needed to close the gap. The cross-agency and multi-program approach that it represents will ensure better alignment of efforts between the public and private sectors, more effective utilization of resources and improved communication and coordination in developing the high-quality workforce that is the foundation of Colorado's economic competitiveness.
- The bill is responsive because it directly addresses industry's need to fill positions in occupations and specializations critical to business growth and success. It is also responsive to the post-secondary education and workforce-development communities' desire to provide high-quality training that meets industry requirements. Additionally, it is responsive to students - traditional-age and especially working-age adults - who will be able to use the information in the annual reports to make more informed decisions about future career directions, marketable skills and educational pathways. And finally, it is responsive to a key recommendation of the Skills2Compete-Colorado campaign - a coalition of business representatives, service providers, education and workforce advocates, government officials and non-profit organizations of which the Bell Policy Center is a member - urging state policymakers to "adopt a cross-agency credential measurement framework that collects credential-outcome data across multiple ... programs to support a workforce-development system that ... responds to the reality of the state's labor-market needs."
- The bill is inclusive because it recognizes that the full scope of post-secondary credentials – not just certificates and degrees – produced through a variety of education, workforce and apprenticeship programs is critical to meeting industry's needs and supporting a robust state economy. This is significant because a vital and growing component of our state's labor market is made up of "middle-skill" jobs - that is, well-paying jobs that require some post-secondary education and training beyond high school but less than a four-year degree. As noted in a recent National Skills Coalition report, Colorado has "a structural shortage of middle-skill workers. Accounting for 47 percent of Colorado's jobs, only 36 percent of Colorado workers are trained to the middle-skill level, a gap that threatens to undermine economic growth and innovation." The annual reports required by the Skills for Jobs Act will help to identify the specifics of that gap, as well as the types of new and expanded credential programs needed to address it.
In closing, the Bell Policy Center believes that House Bill 12-1061 is a major step forward in helping to meet Colorado's workforce needs, provide marketable education and skills for current and future workers, and strengthen our state's economic competitiveness. We urge you to support the bill, we thank Senator Newell for bringing it to you today, and we thank you for the opportunity to share this information.
If you have any questions, or if I can provide further information, please call me at 303-297-0456 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Helping working-age adult students is critical because 65 percent of our national workforce in the year 2020 will be made up of adults already working today. See Amy-Ellen Duke and Evelyn Ganzglass, "Strengthening State Adult Education Policies for Low-Skilled Workers," The Working Poor Families Project, Summer 2007, http://www.workingpoorfamilies.org/pdfs/PB_adult_education.pdf
 "Preparing for the Future: Closing Colorado's Middle-Skills Gap," Skills2Compete-Colorado Campaign, Oct 2011, http://bellpolicy.org/sites/default/files/ClosingColoradosMiddleSkillsJobsGap.pdf
 Colorado's Forgotten Middle-Skill Jobs: Meeting the Demands of a 21st-Century Economy, National Skills Coalition, written for the Skills2Compete-Colorado campaign, October 2011,