New law seeks to match Colorado workforce needs, skills
(Photo with story shows Rich Jones at governor's signing ceremony.)
By Ed Sealover
Denver Business Journal
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a law Monday that requires several state departments to work together to try to match workforce needs with the types of graduates that the state's colleges are producing.
House Bill 1061 – sponsored by Rep. Daniel Kagan, D-Cherry Hills Village – requires the departments of higher education, labor and regulatory agencies to produce an annual report through 2016 that projects the workforce needs of the state, as well as the expected production of degrees and certificates, over the next three years.
The report is meant to show the workforce needs that are not being met by colleges and identify institutions that can expand or create programs to address those needs.
The Skills for Jobs Act was one of the centerpieces of the House Democrats' economic agenda this year, and it narrowly passed the House with the support of just three Republicans.
Critics, such as Rep. Don Beezley, R-Broomfield, said that state departments could already create such a report if it was that important to them and that the bill sounded good but didn't achieve anything.
But Kagan argued in floor debate in early February that without HB 1061, the Department of Higher Education had no direction and other departments might fail to cooperate with it.
After its 33-30 passage through the House, the bill got more bipartisan support in the Senate, passing by a vote of 25-9.
Kagan said in a statement after the signing Monday that colleges and vocational schools can use the new reports to adjust their course offerings, students can use them to make better career choices and businesses can use them to make smarter personnel decisions.
"I am very pleased to have this bill signed that will ensure we have an education system more in tune with the marketplace and a workforce better trained for the jobs that are in demand," Kagan said. "This bill will connect Coloradans with training and education for jobs in need, and that's something that is crucial in continuing to grow Colorado's economy."