Student Success and Workforce Revitalization Task Force Releases Recommendations to Make Colorado More Affordable & Help Students

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The report outlines opportunities and lays out a modernized vision for the state’s postsecondary and workforce ecosystem

DENVER – Jan. 10, 2022: Today the Student Success and Workforce Revitalization Task Force released its report to the legislature outlining a range of bold and innovative efforts Colorado can undertake to make the state more affordable and create student success in today’s work environment. 

In June of 2021, Colorado lawmakers approved and Governor Jared Polis signed HB21-1330 into law creating the Student Success and Workforce Revitalization Task Force. The law calls for the task force to submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) and the General Assembly’s education committees.

“The recommendations in this report will help solidify our students’ futures and help them to get the support they need,” said Education Chair Rachel Zenzinger (D-Arvada). “We have the opportunity to set them up for educational success and prepare them for entry into the workforce. At the same time, we will address disparities within our higher education system and promote equity for all Colorado students. I look forward to implementing these recommendations and making it easier for our students to find a job, and for Colorado employers to hire the well-trained workers they need to help the business community thrive.”

“This is the moment to invigorate Colorado’s workforce by investing in education and training opportunities for high-demand industries,” said Rep. Julie McCluskie, (D-Dillon). "I’m incredibly proud of how the task force's innovative recommendations will support Colorado's economic recovery. This collaborative process brought together higher education institutions, business and labor leaders, and policymakers to develop equity-driven strategies that will save students money on postsecondary credentials and provide new pathways to good jobs and degrees."

“Through the hard work of dozens of people from across Colorado who created the ideas in this report, we have a tremendous opportunity to transform Colorado’s educational system to meet the needs of our students and our businesses,” said Senator Jeff Bridges, (D-Greenwood Village). “Most folks pursue higher education to get the training they need to succeed in the workforce, but right now there’s too often a disconnect between what our schools teach and what our employers need. These suggestions will close that gap, increasing the return on investment in higher education for our students and expanding Colorado’s qualified workforce for our businesses.”

“From the beginning, our goal on this task force was to find innovative and transformational solutions to help Colorado’s students succeed,” said Rep. Monica Duran, (D-Wheat Ridge). “I’m proud to say we’re well on our way to meeting that mark. Thanks to input and support from countless Coloradans who share our objectives, we’ve come up with solutions that will help move Colorado forward by providing young people with the skills and training they need to excel, in an affordable and accessible way.” 

The task force and working groups are composed of 67 members, including representatives from the higher education governing boards in the state, student organizations, private colleges, K-12 schools, members of the business community, higher education advocacy groups, and representatives from the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE). The three working groups focused on Student Success, Workforce Development and Revitalization, and Aligned Systems and Policies for Success.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create transformational change in our higher education system that gives our students the best opportunity to succeed. The Polis administration recognizes that the pandemic changed the way the working world operates and we need to ensure that our higher education institutions adapt,” said Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director of CDHE. “I want to applaud the governor, lawmakers, education, business, civic leaders and students for their thoughtful contributions to this effort.”

“Our hope is that every stakeholder who sees our analysis and recommendations will understand that they have a personal role to play in advancing this work,” said co-chairs Sarah Hughes and Berrick Abramson, CCHE commissioners and task force co-chairs. “By breaking down unnecessary silos and embracing collaboration as we invest in proven supports, we know we can drive learner and earner outcomes and close equity gaps at the local, regional and state levels.”

The report recommends six collaborative strategies, intended to be implemented with appropriate funding and accountability mechanisms: 

  1. Innovation and Scaling Partnership Grants ​
  2. Enhance Transparency of Postsecondary and Workforce Data ​
  3. Develop New Statewide Success Measures​
  4. Develop Stackable Credential/Work-Based Learning Pathways​
  5. Eliminate Equity Gaps ​
  6. Create a Strategic Talent Finance Plan

The state legislature will now review the recommendations. The House and Senate Education Committees are expected to have discussions and propose legislation on certain initiatives. In other areas, there will be an extended in-depth review.​

To learn more about HB 1330 and the Student Success and Revitalization Task Force, visit https://highered.colorado.gov/higher-education-student-success-legislation-hb21-1330-authorizes-federal-american-rescue-plan

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