Fact Check: Are 20,000 ‘High-Paying’ Jobs Available In Colorado?

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Photo: Hickenlooper State of State SoS 1.14.16 (AP)
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper delivers his annual State of the State address to lawmakers and guests, inside the state legislature, in Denver, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016.

In a recent interview at the Capitol, Gov. John Hickenlooper told Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner that there are thousands of good jobs open in Colorado that do not require much training.

"At this very moment in Colorado, we've got over 20,000 job openings that can't be filled. These are high-paying jobs. And you don't have to be writing code for the Internet. A lot of them you can get in a six-month or a nine-month training package. You can go and get hired for a job that pays $60,000 a year," the governor said.

The comment came in response to a question about international trade, and Coloradans who lose their jobs when they go overseas. After hearing the comment, several listeners wrote or called in to CPR, wanting to know more.

According to the governor's office, the figure comes from a report prepared in March for the Business Experiential Learning Commission. Hickenlooper set up that group to increase opportunities for real-world, on-the-job training for Colorado students and people who are unemployed. The goal is to get companies to offer more internships and apprenticeships, so that schools and businesses in the state work together to make sure the training people get matches up with the needs in the labor market.

The consultants who prepared the report found there are about 25,000 open positions each week in Colorado that pay reasonably well and require some training. However, that's not always less than nine months, as the governor suggested, and they may pay less than $60,000, according to Noel Ginsburg, CEO of Intertech Plastics in Denver. He was appointed by Hickenlooper to lead the Business Experiential Learning Commission.

"What I would tell you, when I look at the data, is that it's really a range of opportunities and skills and compensation that are out there. And what the exact numbers tell, is not something I'm confident I feel enough to say, of those 25,000 jobs, you would only need eight-nine months of training. Because the reality of it is, that wouldn't be exactly correct. Because I know for jobs within my industry, if you're going to be a tool maker, that could take five years. If you're going to be a quality technician, we can train you in six months. Sometimes less," Ginsburg said.

Coloradans looking for opportunities can go to two websites, both run at least in part by the state: