Economic Freedom: Workforce Development

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Colorado Gives Foundation believes everyone deserves an opportunity at a good job that pays a livable wage. That’s why we’re committed to finding the best pathways to good jobs. Economic freedom is only possible when our neighbors have jobs that pay well.

In Colorado, and especially Jefferson County, most good-paying jobs require some education beyond high school. According to the Education to Employment Alliance, nearly half (49%) of the jobs in the state require middle-skills, defined as training beyond a high school diploma but not a four-year degree.*

By supporting efforts to connect the best training providers with people eager to learn and employers ready to hire them, lives can be changed.

*Maximizing Human Potential and Economic Mobility for Coloradans, Education to Employment

The Jeffco Stackable Credentials Blueprint

Today’s learners come from a variety of backgrounds and situations. Some are already working, some are getting ready to graduate high school, others are full-time parents or adults who want to return to school to further develop their skills. The path to getting a good job is different for everyone. Think about stackable credentials as building blocks that offer people a sequence of credentials that stack upon each other over time, building their qualifications and helping them move along a career pathway or up to different and potentially better-paying jobs. For example, a learner may enroll in a nursing assistant certificate program, then take the qualifying exam to become a certified nurse assistant, and then complete an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing. The stackable credentials continue to build their skills and knowledge as they prepare for a nursing career.

We’ve created a stackable credentials blueprint for Jeffco to help learners and employers fill the middle-skills jobs in Jefferson County.

Colorado Pay It Forward Fund

The Colorado Pay It Forward Fund provides zero-interest loans to both learners seeking job training and training providers offering quality training programs. The loans can be used to pay for education or living stipends while the learner gets an education and are only repaid is the learner gets a job that pays at least $40,000 a year. Then, the funds are paid forward and used to support the next learner or training provider.

Tuition and living expense loans for learners: Education without debt is doable. Learners get zero-interest, no-fee loans to cover tuition for high-quality job training or living expenses during training. After completing training, when they get a job that pays at least $40,000/year, they or their future employers pay back their loans through low monthly repayments. If the learner doesn’t get a job that meets the salary threshold, they don’t pay it back.

Working capital loans for training providers and employers: Quality training providers get low- or zero-interest working capital loans so they can serve more learners. This makes it easier for them to hire and retain the local talent they need.

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