Key House Dem Jobs Bill Passes First Hurdle

(Jan. 28) –A bill to blend education and skills programs to help the unemployed fill Colorado’s workforce needs passed the House Education Committee today on a vote of a 12-1. The bill is a key component of the House Democratic jobs package this legislative session.

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 under-skilled to match Colorado’s workforce with Colorado’s workforce needs.  The bill combines basic education with skills training classes, and adults who learn both sets of skills can earn certificates in specific fields more quickly.

Rep. Buckner said this bill is an important component to 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 the time and program requirements,” Rep. Buckner told the committee.  “By combining basic skills requirements with post-secondary education and training, it can be accomplished in a shorter period of time at a lesser expense.”

Colorado is facing a shortfall of middle-skill jobs and this pilot program will collaborate with community colleges to help adults get the skills they need to compete in today’s economy. Rep. Fields said the bill will navigate people from unemployment to the workforce.

“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.”

Many came to testify in support of the bill, including Colorado Center on Law & Policy, Bell Policy Institute, Emily Griffith Opportunity School and Colorado Community College Systems.

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