(May 26) – Gov. John Hickenlooper signed three Colorado Ready to Work bills today, completing action on a strongly bipartisan legislative package intended to connect more Coloradans to the skilled, high-tech jobs our state’s economy is now producing.

The signing ceremony was held at Intertech Plastics, a manufacturer of injection-molded plastics in Denver.

HB15-1230, sponsored by Reps. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, and Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, creates paid internship programs at engineering and R&D-intensive companies in Colorado, where Colorado high school or college students or recent grads would gain real-world work experience and occupational skills and employers would provide training tailored to their real-world needs.

“As this sector expands, these companies will be hiring more full-time employees,” Rep. Lee said. “We want those new hires to be the Coloradans they’ve already trained through our program.”

Also signed today was HB15-1170, Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp’s bill creating a statewide coordinator who will work with the Colorado Workforce Development Council, with school districts, institutions of higher ed, businesses, and the Department of Education to help young Coloradans nearing high school graduation decide which post-secondary path is right for them – a four-year college or a community college or a career and technical education program.

“We want our high schools to encourage their students to take the next step up the learning ladder,” said Rep. Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada. “But we also want to the schools to recognize that four-year college degrees, and the careers they lead to, aren’t the right answer for every student.”

The governor also signed HB15-1276, sponsored by Speaker Pro Tem Dan Pabon, D-Denver, and Rep. Angela Williams, D-Denver. The bill establishes a grant program for marketing and recruitment efforts to increase public awareness of the good jobs that are out there in certain industries, as well as the programs that will help Colorado workers gain the skills needed to get those jobs.

“When we close the information gap we can close the skills gap,” Rep. Pabon said. “Colorado workers of all ages stand to benefit from this bill.”

With today’s signings, nine of the 10 Colorado Ready to Work bills coordinated by House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, have become law or will take effect on their scheduled effective dates. On Friday, the governor signed HB15-1275, Rep. Faith Winter’s bill to allow high schools to provide coursework that will award high school credit for students that they can then count toward apprenticeship programs leading to post-secondary certifications and tech careers.

“This bill will connect more students to bright careers and help industry gain the skilled workforce they badly need, said Rep. Winter, D-Westminster.

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