DENVER (KDVR) — Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order Thursday with the goal of boosting the state’s workforce. He wants to provide more apprenticeships and work-study programs for students.

The plan will take a couple of years to play out, but the governor is hoping students and the state will benefit from the action in the end.

Polis met with students from the Community College of Denver on Thursday. He listened to their stories about how Colorado work-based learning programs and apprenticeships have helped them earn degrees and certificates and chart their paths in life.

“It was great to hear from students of all ages who face a lot of adversity in their lives. They’re going back to school, getting credentials, some of them are just finishing. There’s a lot of jobs out there waiting for them, and it’s really made it possible, the fact that through Care Forward Colorado, degrees in the healthcare fields are now free through our community college system, and through all these scholarship programs, they are able to make it work. And really, they are going to benefit from it their entire careers — really, we all are going to benefit,” Polis said.

Polis signs workforce executive order

The governor also signed an executive order to bolster more career paths for students benefitting from these programs. According to the governor’s office, the order calls for:

  • Increasing the number of registered apprenticeship programs within state departments by 50% by June 30, 2024
  • Increasing the number of registered apprenticeships in the private sector by an additional 100 programs by June 30, 2024
  • Creating 10 additional work-based learning programs for classifications with high vacancy rates or multi-department positions by June 30, 2025

The governor is hoping to duplicate the success students like Amy Nash have seen going through current state programs.

“Having a sense of community and friends as well as mentorship working with my professors,” Nash said of the program’s benefits, which she said allowed her to meet people and tour places like Denver Botanic Gardens and Denver Zoo.

“And being able to go and tour other campuses and think about getting a master’s degree and a Ph.D., which is something I hadn’t considered before that program,” said Nash, who recently completed her program with Community College of Denver.

With more than 30,000 jobs at the state level, the governor said recruitment tends to be a challenge. He is hoping people within these programs decide to stay with the state once they complete their programs.