Flanked by business leaders from across the state, Gov. Bill Ritter earlier this week announced the next step in his job-creation strategy. It consists of a set of recommendations drawn up by his Colorado Jobs Cabinet to improve workforce quality and better meet the needs of businesses now and into the future.
“These are tough times,” Ritter said Monday at the Auraria higher education campus, “but over the past two and a half years we’ve developed a focused business-development strategy and made key investments in education, job training and workforce development. These recommendations add to that and will help ensure we recover stronger, quicker and healthier.”
Ritter said the Jobs Cabinet, established last year as part of the Colorado Promise — the trademark of his administration — will help create a highly skilled and educated workforce and improve the competitiveness of Colorado business.
The Jobs Cabinet is comprised of top business, economic development, education and workforce development experts, along with several members of the Governor’s cabinet. The group was co-chaired by attorney and community leader Jim Lyons, Qwest Executive Vice President Teresa Taylor and retired Trinidad State Junior College President Ruth Ann Woods. The Jobs Cabinet met 19 times with constituents around the state.
The report, titled “Economic Competitiveness through Collaboration, Talent Development and Innovation,” offered five major recommendations:
• Collaboration: Strengthen, expand and align existing — but isolated — local education, economic development and workforce training programs to better meet the needs of the workforce.
• Engagement: Do a better job talking to and engaging employers in the job-training process so that education, economic development and workforce-training providers have a better sense of what businesses need.
• Marketing: Aggressively promote workforce development programs so Colorado businesses can utilize those programs instead of spending money on more expensive in-house training programs.
• Information: Develop a coordinated Web site that provides business with easy access to local workforce resources and information.
• Leadership: Provide senior executive leadership from the Governor’s office to spearhead implementation of these recommendations, measure progress and make adjustments as necessary.
“Government alone cannot fix this economy or create more private-sector jobs,” the governor said. “But we can do our part. We can create a better business-friendly environment. We can strengthen relationships and break down silos. And we can do a better job asking businesses ‘what can we do for you?’ rather than sticking to business as usual.”
Members of the Jobs Cabinet worked diligently over the last 15 months to bring the Governor’s vision to reality, said Jobs Cabinet co-chairman Lyons. “Today’s recommendations are a major step toward maximizing our resources for a world class work force in Colorado.”
Many Colorado businesses joined Gov. Ritter in endorsing the recommendations and committing to collaborate with all partners.
“As the chairman of Colorado Concern, I can say first-hand that our organization recognizes the important work the Colorado’s Jobs Cabinet has accomplished in the areas of economic development and education to promote a highly skilled and educated workforce,” said Walter Isenberg, chairman of the bipartisan business group. “These efforts directly impact our state’s competitiveness, which is critical in this global environment.”
Other supporters of the recommendations include the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Businesses, Colorado Community College System, the Colorado Workforce Development Council, Colorado Workforce Investment Boards, Economic Development Council of Colorado, Colorado Commission on Higher Education, and Action 22.
The Jobs Cabinet recommendations for collaboration will assist Colorado’s economic developers in retaining and attracting jobs, and will help job seekers gain the skills necessary to land good-paying jobs.
“Colorado’s success in a competitive global market is based on the state’s ability to meet the needs of employers with well-educated and trained employees,” Ritter said.
“Investing time and resources into developing a highly skilled workforce will give Colorado an edge when attracting businesses, and growing and sustaining existing businesses already located in our state.”