(April 11) – A bill to blend education and skills programs to help the unemployed rejoin Colorado’s workforce passed the House today by a vote of 40 to 22. The bill is a key component of the House Democratic package of bills to accelerate the state’s economy and connect Coloradans to good jobs.

HB13-1005, sponsored by Reps. John Buckner (D-Aurora) and Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora), is also called I-BEST, integrated basic education and skills training, and will implement a pilot program to fast-track education and training for the underskilled to match Colorado’s workforce with the jobs that are in demand.  The bill combines basic education with skills training classes, and speeds up the process of obtaining certificates in specific fields.

Rep. Buckner said this bill is an important component of getting more Coloradans back to work.

“The intent is to remove some impediments that cause employed and unemployed people not to be able to upgrade their skill levels because of time and program requirements,” Rep. Buckner said.  “By combining basic skills training with post-secondary education, it can be accomplished in a shorter period of time at a lesser expense.”

Colorado is facing a shortage of middle-skill employees and this pilot program will collaborate with community colleges to help adults get the skills they need to compete in today’s economy.

“This program will help Coloradans get the skills they need to get back to work,” Rep. Fields said. “Giving people who are unemployed or underemployed an opportunity to gather the skills they need to get good-paying jobs is exactly what we should be doing at the Capitol.”

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