Bennet, Hickenlooper, Polis Welcome Labor Secretary Marty Walsh to Colorado to Learn More About Apprenticeship Opportunities Across the State

Bennet, Hickenlooper, Polis, and Walsh Heard from Students, Labor Leaders, and Business Owners to Learn More About How They Can Support Apprenticeship Programs, Grow Our Workforce In Colorado and Across the Country

More Photos From Today’s Visits Are Available HERE 

Denver –– Today, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper and Colorado Governor Jared Polis welcomed U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Marty Walsh to Colorado to learn more about apprenticeship and workforce opportunities in Colorado. Bennet, Hickenlooper, Polis, and Walsh heard from Colorado businesses, students, and labor leaders during their visits to the Denver Chamber of Commerce, Metropolitan State University (MSU) of Denver, and Western State College of Construction and Pipefitters Local 208. At MSU Denver, Secretary Walsh announced $113 million for a grant program to support apprenticeship opportunities across the country. That includes up to $50 million to support equity partnerships and pre-apprenticeship activities to increase enrollment in Registered Apprenticeship Programs.

“Colorado leads the nation in expanding apprenticeship opportunities, and I’m glad to see Secretary Walsh and the Department of Labor take a page out of our book,” said Bennet. “Investing in apprenticeship programs is a win-win for our economy — it will help us meet our workforce challenges, while building career pathways to financial stability and opportunity for more Coloradans.”

“Colorado is all-in on apprenticeships and building pathways to good-paying jobs that don’t solely rely on a four-year degree. Secretary Walsh’s announcement shows the Biden Administration is right there with us,” said Hickenlooper.

“Registered apprenticeship is a proven model to connect workers to good jobs—a key priority for the Biden-Harris administration,” said Secretary Walsh. “Colorado has been a role-model state for expanding and diversifying apprenticeship programs across industry sectors, and is a shining example of the workforce development investments needed to grow our nation’s middle class.”

“Our workforce is the backbone of our strong economy, which is why we are taking bold steps to create good-paying jobs, improve job quality, and provide equitable access to workforce development, including apprenticeships. Our economy is growing stronger every day, and I am proud to welcome Secretary Walsh to our beautiful state as we continue our work to strengthen Colorado communities and ensure every Coloradan can thrive,” said Polis. 

“I’m grateful Sec. Walsh was able to hear directly from students about the impact of innovative apprenticeship programs. MSU Denver’s partnerships with the private sector are a key component of connecting our diverse student population with great career opportunities. Thank you to Sens. Bennet and Hickenlooper and Gov. Polis for bringing Sec. Walsh to campus,” said Metropolitan State University of Denver President Janine Davidson, Ph.D.

“Our economy’s innovation and competitiveness rely on talent—that’s why so many employers and policy makers came together today to talk about youth apprenticeship,” said Noel Ginsburg, CareerWise founder and CEO. “Some of our most successful youth-apprentice employers find the ideal mix is about five percent of their workforce. At that scale, apprentices are making a real impact on the company, and the program is making a real impact in the community.”

“Hosting US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, US Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper, along with Governor Polis at our training facility is invaluable.   I can’t thank the group enough for spending the time meeting and speaking with our apprentices to learn more about how registered apprenticeship programs can improve the lives of Coloradans by providing successful career paths with no personal debt,” said Gary Arnold, Denver Pipefitters Local 208 Business Manager. “As our country begins to address badly needed infrastructure upgrades included in the recently passed 1.2 trillion dollar bipartisan infrastructure bill we will need more highly trained construction professionals.  Registered apprenticeship programs that combine related training classes with On the Job learning have proven to be the most efficient process of producing the highly trained individuals our communities depend on, with the additional benefit of relieving the typical challenges of student loan debt many Americans face.  Having leaders like Secretary Walsh, Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper, and Governor Polis, willing to learn the intricate details about the apprenticeship learning model ensures Colorado can support our apprenticeship programs in the best possible ways.  Recently Pipefitters Local #208, Plumbers Local #3, IBEW Locals #68 & 111, Sheet Metal Workers Local #9, along with our 3 contractors associations (RMMCA, NECA, SMACNA) completed the full accreditation process with the American Council for Construction Education and officially launched Western States College of Construction.  ACCE is the premier construction education accreditor and the only accreditor focused solely on construction education.  With the support of innovative leaders like Secretary Walsh, Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper, and Governor Polis we are finding new ways to blend the apprenticeship model with higher education degrees, providing enhanced benefits to workers and our industries.  This has never been done anywhere before but I know with the right leaders in place and good old fashioned American work ethic anything is possible.”

Bennet, Hickenlooper, Polis, and Walsh started their day with CareerWise and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce to hear from Colorado business leaders and others about apprenticeship opportunities in Denver. Then, they toured MSU Denver’s Advanced Manufacturing Sciences Institute and joined a panel discussion with apprentices to learn more about MSU Denver’s apprenticeship programs. Bennet previously visited MSU Denver in May 2021 to hear from students enrolled in the school’s apprenticeship programs. During their final stop of the day, Bennet, Hickenlooper, and Polis joined Walsh for a tour of Western State College of Construction and Pipefitters Local 208 to hear from local labor leaders.

Apprenticeship programs in Colorado and across the country help workers earn competitive wages while they learn, provide structured on-the-job skills training with an experienced mentor, and prepare workers for a successful career with a portable, nationally-recognized credential within their industry. At the state and federal level, Bennet, Hickenlooper, and Polis  continue to work with Secretary Walsh and the entire Biden Administration to invest in apprenticeship programs and workforce development. 

President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better proposal allocates $100 billion in funding for registered apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships, and pre-apprenticeships serving high numbers of individuals with barriers to employment. This provision mirrors Bennet’s Student Apprenticeship Act, which would modernize workforce training and accelerate the growth of registered apprenticeship programs nationwide.

Additionally, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) includes multiple provisions to invest in preparing the workforce, including: 

  • $62 million over the next five years to the Federal Transit Administration at the Department of Transportation to address public transportation workforce needs;
  • $10 million to the Department of Energy for career skills training grants to help students obtain an industry-related certification to install energy-efficient buildings technologies through learn-as-you-earn programming; and
  • $2.75 billion to build digital equity and inclusion in the fields of broadband and digital technology through grants to states