March 5, 2015

They said we couldn't do it, but we did.

Today, Colorado Democrats and Republicans came together to expand and strengthen our middle class after months of preparation and consultation.

Although the top one percent has watched their income expand, salaries for hard working, middle-class families have been stagnant in many cases. Too many Coloradans are working more hours and living paycheck to paycheck. Our families are working harder just to stay afloat.

That's why together we have developed the Colorado Ready to Work package! This package of bills will help create not only more jobs, but better paying jobs. Jobs that will help expand and strengthen the middle class across Colorado.

Ensuring Coloradans are ready to work is not a partisan issue. It is a Colorado issue. That's why I'm pleased that many of the bills in our package have bipartisan support.

So if you are a recent college grad who is buried under student debt and struggling to find work, a mid-career worker who needs a new set of skills to be competitive in today's job market, or a single mom who wants tools to be able to find a good- paying job, the Colorado Ready to Work package could improve your economic security.

Jobs are a priority we can all support. I'm proud that we can show Congress how we here in Colorado get things done in a bipartisan fashion!

Mobile Learning Labs (Lontine & Hamner/Marble & Donovan)
Brings the community college classroom to the workplace. RV-sized vehicles can set up in a company's parking lot to deliver training programs to employees where they work. The mobile learning labs reduce employee travel time and scheduling hassles while delivering training that's tailored to the specific needs of the company. Modeled on a Pueblo CC program.

Career Pathways (Melton & Garnett/Woods & Kerr)
Directs the state workforce development council to coordinate with industry to design more career pathways -- a combination of education and training programs, work experiences and counseling -- for critical occupations in growing industries. Based on a manufacturing career pathway that's already been designed.

P-TECH (Foote & Duran/Woods & Todd)
Creates partnerships with industries to do a combination of internships, mentoring and school courses in information technology and STEM fields. Graduates will come out with a high school diploma and an associate's degree, which they can then use to jump-start a bachelor's degree or take directly into a career.

WORK Act (Pabon & Williams/Cooke)
Ceates a grant program to close an information gap - the lack of public awareness of the good jobs that are out there in certain industries, as well as the programs that will help Colorado workers gain the skills needed to get those jobs. Grants will help the outreach, recruiting and training efforts of organizations offering skilled worker training programs.

Career & Technical Education Programs and Concurrent Enrollment (Winter/Marble & Heath)
Allows high schools to provide coursework and award high school credit for students that they can then count toward apprenticeship programs leading to post-secondary certifications and tech careers. Provides scholarships to help pay for some of the most in-demand career and tech programs.

HB15-1170 Post-Secondary and Workforce Readiness Coordinator (Kraft-Tharp & Wilson/Hill & Heath)
Creates a statewide coordinator who will work with schools and businesses to help young Coloradans nearing high school graduation decide which post-secondary path is right for them - a four-year college, a community college or a career and technical education program. Students will be encouraged to take the next step up the education ladder, but without trying to shoehorn them into a four-year college, which isn't the right answer for every student.

HB15-1230 Innovative Industries Internships (Lee & Foote/Cooke & Heath)
Creates an internship/apprenticeship program in engineering and R&D-intensive companies. Colorado high school or college students or recent graduates enrolling in the program would gain real-world work experience and occupational skills, and employers would provide training tailored to their real-world needs.

SB15-082 County Workforce Development Programs (Moreno & Lawrence/Marble & Hodge)
Authorizes Colorado's 64 counties to establish workforce development programs to provide financial assistance to their high school graduates who pursue post-secondary education or training. Counties would be able to offer property tax credits or rebates to local taxpayers who contribute to the fund.



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