Colorado Dems, GOP back vocational worker training bills

March 6, 2015
Photo: Student workforce training
Students Erika Navia, left, and Liz Wilson work on their miter boxes during a training session in New York. The Colorado Legislature is considering bills that would start similar programs here.  

A press conference Thursday highlighted the bills, which mark a rare moment of bipartisan agreement. It was attended by a score of lawmakers from both parties who say they’re committed to work together on the issue.

The workforce readiness package includes bills to help students earn vocational credit in high school and to help them pay for training courses after they graduate. Other legislation is intended to help vocational schools better tailor their training to an industry’s specific needs, and to encourage companies to offer paid internships to young workers.

Senate President Bill Cadman’s son is attending in a vocational program in New Mexico because he couldn’t find similar training in Colorado.

"This hits home. He wants to be here. I want him here. Why not have a program that gives you education and a job at the same time, and that’s what some of these pathways can provide," Cadman said.

Several of the bills in the workforce development package focus on readying workers specifically for jobs in engineering, computing, and technical fields, industries where lawmakers say positions are currently going unfilled.

Lawmakers couldn’t say immediately how much the total package of workforce development bills will cost the state or how many people they aim to help find jobs.