Investing in Local Talent
SkillBuild Colorado is a funding collaborative hosted by the Rose Community Foundation, focused on moving entry level workers into middle skill careers and helping businesses recruit and train skilled competitive workforce. The Rose Community Foundation is the host organization and acts as fiscal agent that manages contributions from all of the funding partner organizations.
SkillBuild Colorado is based on the model created by the National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS) in 2007. The National Fund for Workforce Solutions provided seed funding on an annual basis and local funding partners committed resources to design and implement strategies to improve workforce development for the Denver Metro region and Colorado.
Each of the member organizations committed a portion of their resources for investment in workforce partnerships, capacity building and policy changes that will improve the talent development system in the region. The ultimate goal was to ensure a skilled workforce to drive economic prosperity for individuals, businesses and the region.
Since 2008, SkillBuild Colorado has helped with economic recovery by creating career advancement opportunities for entry-level workers, improving employer ability to identify and retain a qualified workforce and working with strategic partners to bring about systemic changes in workforce development in target industries. With a relatively small investment, SkillBuild Colorado has had a big impact on workforce development practices and policies across the region and the state.
In 2008, SkillBuild Colorado was off to a strong start, with a large group of investors committing funds to be matched by the NFWS. Investors ranged from small non-profits to large corporations and government entities.
Together, they researched workforce trends and singled out local sectors that would benefit from workforce partnerships. In 2009, mid-way through planning some partnerships and on to implementing others, the collaborative was struck by the national recession. Investors’ budgets were cut, programs were put on hold, and SkillBuild’s executive leadership realized they needed to re-strategize.
Angel Bermudez began providing coaching services to SkillBuild when the initiative began in 2009. Working closely with SkillBuild’s Executive Committee, Angel introduced new goals, including legislation for the Colorado Skills to Compete Campaign. Angel coached the collaborative on how to approach this initiative, which saw legislation recently approved and is awaiting a signature by the governor.
The legislation seeks to address this skills gap and meet the demand for skilled workers by requiring the Colorado Department of Labor to share information on job openings with workforce training programs, colleges and vocational schools. Colorado joins Maryland and Rhode Island who have implemented similar efforts to align credential attainment outcomes with labor market demand, otherwise known as credential measure and outcome policies. These policies encourage greater alignment between the state’s human capital programs and the occupational needs of employers. The goal is to track credential attainment across a range of public workforce and education programs, in order to assess how well education and training investments meet the labor market demand for skills.
Since many of these programs have historically operated in silos, policymakers typically never see the collective outcomes of these programs and how they relate to the labor market, job openings, or the needs of business in certain industry sectors. The Colorado act, which requires the collection and analysis of this information, begins to give policy makers, employers and citizens a “snapshot” of education and training credential outcomes of their statewide “workforce system” and how this relates to labor market demand, opportunities for employment, and business competitiveness.
SkillBuild Colorado is one of a few, out of the 32 NFWS sites, with a major public policy accomplishment.
Skillbuild Colorado’s Results Since 2008
● 11 workforce partnerships created and/or expanded
● 185 job seekers provided services and 171 incumbent workers served
● 22 Funding Partners over three years
● Over $1.4 million raised from funding partners
● Catalyzed new employer investments in workforce development
● Supported creation of the Colorado Energy Consortium
● Created the Skills2Compete Campaign and supported passage of the Skills for Jobs Act
● Released the Forgotten Middle Skills Jobs report in cooperation with the National Skills Coalition, used to educate policy makers and the public
● Assisted with the launch of the Colorado Energy Consortium, comprised of energy utility companies from across Colorado, who will guide public investments of resources for training and education
● Worked with the Colorado Hospital Association to design a survey identifying the need for allied healthcare workers