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Governor Polis Takes Executive Action to Expand Access to Work-Based Learning Opportunities and Grow the Workforce


Last year, Governor Polis took executive action to create apprenticeship programs throughout his administration, and during his 2023 State of the State address, the Governor highlighted investments in the workforce taken by his administration including Care Forward Colorado which provides no cost-credentials for in-demand jobs, as well as Career Advance Colorado and the recently announced Opportunity Now. Today, the Polis administration has met those goals for apprenticeships outlined in the 2022 Executive Order and Governor Polis is taking new executive action to rapidly expand work-based learning opportunities.

Governor Polis declared September Workforce Development Month and celebrated Colorado’s workers this Labor Day and this year the U.S. Department of Labor recognized Colorado as a state apprenticeship agency.

“Creating more good-paying jobs and filling in-demand jobs are extremely important for our success. This new action expands upon our goals of creating more opportunities and jobs for Coloradans through programs that provide hands-on experience,” said Governor Polis. “Apprenticeships and work-based learning opportunities are key to creating the workforce of the future. We must expand opportunities for students and workers of all ages to get the training they need to start or build careers that support them and their families.  This is just as true for the private sector as it is for state government.  As the public sector takes this step, I encourage the private sector and businesses to also learn how further expansion of apprenticeships and work-based learning would benefit companies,” added the Governor.

The Governor was joined today by Office of Economic Development and International Trade Executive Director, Eve Lieberman Department of Labor and Employment Executive Director Joe Barela, Department of Personnel and Administration Executive Director Tony Gherardini, Office of the Future of Work Director Katherine Keegan, Representative Sheila Lieder, Representative David Ortiz, Senator James Coleman, Senator Tom Sullivan, and local labor, business and education leaders at the ceremony.

This week, Governor Polis will visit Care Forward Colorado and Career Advance Colorado programs at the Colorado Community College System, including the Community College of Denver this morning.

The new Executive Order references many of the new laws signed by Governor Polis focused on strengthening Colorado’s economy, helping students and the workforce gain the skills they need to build the careers of their dreams, meet the demands of our economy, and fill the available jobs being created by Colorado businesses.

The Governor’s new Executive Order creates more opportunities for careers with state government and helps Colorado attract and retain the talent it needs for today and the future. As a result of the efforts of the Polis-Primavera Administration, the General Assembly, labor organizations, and private employers who are innovating their hiring and training practices, Colorado has over 300 active apprenticeship programs, including State programs, that support more than 6,000 participants.

This new Executive Order expands the scope of the Governor’s 2022 Executive Order to include and promote other work-based learning programs in state government, including internships, pre-apprenticeships, and fellowships, that support learning through and at work. The Governor encourages private sector employers to build new or expand existing registered apprenticeship programs and other work-based learning programs to create more employment and career opportunities across the State.

The Governor’s new Executive Order takes further action to significantly expand work-based learning opportunities, including fellowships and internships and set new aggressive goals for the Polis-Primavera Administration.

Last year, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh joined Gov. Polis, Senator Bennet Senator Hickenlooper, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and Denver Pipefitters Local 208 to bring awareness to Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAPs).

The Directives of the new Governor’s Executive Order include:

  • Increasing the number of Registered Apprenticeship Programs within State Departments by 50% by June 30, 2024.
  • Increasing the number of Registered Apprenticeships in the private sector by an additional 100 programs by June 30, 2024, through the technical assistance and support offered by the Department of Labor and Employment’s Office of the Future of Work.
  • Creating 10 additional work-based learning programs for classifications with high vacancy rates or multi-department positions by June 30, 2025.
  • Directing each Department to implement at least two new work-based learning programs by December 30, 2025.