Colorado’s Governor Wants $70 Million for Workforce Development

Gov. Jared Polis' fiscal year 2023-24 budget proposal includes funding for free training in a wide range of fields, including education, construction, and nursing.
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  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis' fiscal year 2023-24 budget proposes $70 million for workforce development.
  • That investment would include free access to training in high-demand fields like nursing, construction, and education.
  • Funding would also go toward creating scholarships and apprenticeship programs for high school graduates.
  • Polis' funding proposal will ultimately be subject to approval by the Colorado General Assembly.

Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis proposed $70 million to provide free training in high-demand fields as part of his fiscal year 2023-24 budget request Tuesday in a bid to cut back on a workforce shortage.

Colorado and other states are facing an ongoing shortage of workers in key fields. Polis' $70 million workforce development proposal aims to close that gap by offering free training alongside scholarships and apprenticeships, he announced Tuesday.

Early childhood and K-12 education, construction and advanced manufacturing, fire and forestry, nursing, and law enforcement are all fields Polis is targeting in the proposal.

"This concerted investment will provide Colorado's economy with an increased number of skilled workers in critical sectors, help solve the workforce shortage, and reduce inflationary pressures," Polis wrote in a letter to the Colorado General Assembly's Joint Budget Committee.

Free access to higher education and job training "has been shown to increase the number of skilled workers and access to opportunity," Polis wrote.

Polis noted that the state's job growth is expected to continue to grow this year but also warned that labor demand could fall due to businesses' fears of a recession.

Government officials and businesses alike have scrambled to curb an ongoing "skills gap," or lack of qualified workers to fill open jobs, for several years.

Big tech companies including Amazon, Google, and Microsoft have partnered with community colleges to offer skills training programs in high-demand fields like cybersecurity and information technology, BestColleges previously reported.

Polis' proposed investment in workforce development would be the latest in a slew of government funding toward closing the skills gap and combating the labor shortage.

The U.S. Department of Commerce last summer rolled out the $500 million Good Jobs Challenge, part of the American Rescue Plan Act, to create job opportunities for more than 50,000 Americans.

Work-based learning experiences are key to producing work-ready graduates, according to a recent national survey by Harvard Business School and the American Association of Community Colleges. But educators in that survey said they want more collaboration from businesses on apprenticeship programs.

Polis' budget requests will ultimately be subject to approval by the Colorado General Assembly.