DENVER – Sept. 30, 2020: The Colorado Department of Higher Education has unveiled the Colorado Collegiate Apprentice Program, an innovative new learning model that empowers Coloradans with the hands-on career training to accelerate their education in specific fields. In partnership with the Colorado Community College system, the first learning track, launching this fall semester, is focused on careers in healthcare, with other industry programs to follow.
The apprenticeship model pairs traditional in-classroom learning with hands-on, paid training that is tailored to the specific needs of industry partners, resulting in a pipeline of highly skilled employees with direct experience in the workplace. There are more than 300 positions opening over the next few months, ranging from public health to medical assistants and nursing, with information technology and cybersecurity launching in January 2021.
“This is an amazing opportunity for Coloradans and a real path to a highly skilled workforce and better jobs,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “Apprenticeships are a cost-effective way to learn and provide the talent our local businesses are seeking. I’m proud to say that Colorado is leading the country in re-imagining this innovative way to learn.”
Data show that the model leads to successful outcomes for apprentices. Retention rates average more than 90% and the average starting wage while in the program is $15 an hour, compared with the typical out of pocket education costs of a traditional education.
“It’s wonderful to see a powerful program like this come to fruition,” said Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. “One of my passions since coming to the department has been to connect students to a meaningful workplace education component during their academic experience. This program does just that and more, beginning in healthcare and expanding to other areas of study. We aim to scale to 5,000 apprenticeships over the next several years.”
The pilot program is the result of a federal grant to develop new healthcare career pathways. But CDHE will soon expand the program to other industries such as information technology.
“Our education and workforce leaders, now more than ever, must strategically come together to provide supportive pathways that make sense for today’s dynamic learners,” said Joe Garcia, chancellor of the Colorado Community College System. “Alongside CDHE, our system of 13 colleges is committed to partnering, investing, and designing new apprenticeship programs that scale across our fastest-growing industries in order to meet the unique needs of employers, as well as attract, retain and inspire the next generation of Colorado’s workforce.”
Information about the program can be found at www.COApprentice.com.