Colorado Talent Pipeline Report


The annual Colorado Talent Pipeline Report identifies areas of growing demand and opportunity, key features of the current labor force, and strategies to balance the supply and demand equation for talent. It also highlights the Top Jobs in Colorado -- jobs with high annual openings, above average growth, and a good wage.

In accordance with 24-46.3-103 C.R.S. as amended by SB14-205, the CWDC presents the Colorado Talent Pipeline Report in partnership with the Department of Higher Education, the Department of Education, the Department of Labor and Employment, and the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, with support from the Office of State Planning and Budgeting, the State Demography Office at the Department of Local Affairs, and other partners.


2023 Talent Pipeline Report

The CWDC released the 2023 Talent Pipeline Report on Dec. 15, 2023. This tenth iteration of the Talent Pipeline Report analyzes and explains labor market information, highlights talent development strategies, and provides data-informed opportunities to enhance the talent pipeline in Colorado.


The Talent Pipeline Report provides data and strategies to inform the development of legislation and policies as well as the implementation of existing work. In 2023 Colorado has one of the top economies in the country, but the demand for qualified workers continues, and opportunities exist to equip Colorado workers and learners with the skills they need to advance and meet the needs of businesses.

Last year, Colorado dedicated $38 million to support zero cost training for early childhood and K-12 educators, fire and forestry professionals, construction workers, law enforcement officers, and nurses through the Career Advance program. The state also invested $25 million in scholarships to pursue postsecondary education and training opportunities, and $5 million to support work-based learning in high school. 

To build on this work and better meet the needs of our businesses, job seekers, workers, and learners, Colorado has identified four areas for continued focus and policy development.

Cover of the 2023 Talent Pipeline Report

2023 Policy Recommendations

Recommendation One: Strengthen Support for Employers’ Talent Development

Our workforce development practices are only as strong as the jobs they connect Coloradans to. We recommend incentivizing talent development strategies that are evidence-based and led by employers. Strategies like on-the-job training, micro-credentialing, apprenticeship, and sector-wide collaboration help Coloradans develop the skills they need for quality careers.

A. Sector partnerships: Regional, employer-led strategies are critical to identifying and meeting the workforce needs of communities throughout our state. While there are 25 sector partnerships around the state using the model promoted by the Colorado Workforce Development Council, not every region has a local business community currently engaged in this work. COVID-19 further disrupted this practice, making it more difficult to convene existing partnerships and launch new ones. Additional incentives to engage business in these partnerships will strengthen regional economic development.

B. Apprenticeship: Earn and learn models create viable pathways into good paying jobs for many Coloradans. Apprenticeship is a solution to the skills gap in many industries because employers build the skills they are looking for by investing in the development of their employees. On-the-job training and related academic instruction also ensure that our workforce has the technical understanding to apply their skills throughout their careers. 

C. Opportunity Now: The Opportunity Now program dedicated $85 million of stimulus funds to effective talent development partnerships. To date, the program has seeded 46 talent partnerships to help local employers meet their workforce needs. An additional investment in Opportunity Now would further advance progress.

Recommendation Two: Increase the Availability of Career-connected Learning Opportunities

Colorado students need to be prepared to meet the challenges of the future economy, and those future skills need to be developed today. Early career exposure and strengthening the connections between K-12, higher education, and the workforce help students develop life long skills. Colorado can invest in the front-end in our talent pipeline by making career-connected learning more widely available. The Big Blur Task Force, established by HB22-1215, developed recommendations to increase career-connected learning in their report released Dec. 1. The Talent Pipeline Report recommendations dovetail with that work.

A. Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Programs: Funding Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness programs is a persistent challenge in Colorado schools. Providers and school districts deliver Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness programs, however the rate of reimbursement for delivering these programs is unpredictable. Preparing our students for what comes after K-12 is an essential function of our education system. Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness programs must have sustainable funding to support that mandate. These programs could be supported with a new categorical funding stream, modeled after the Career and Technical Act, formerly the Colorado Vocational Act of 1970, CRS 23-8-101 (Colorado CTE Categorical) or another new funding stream.

B. Career Development Incentive Program: The Career Development Incentive Program, or Career Development Success Program, provides financial incentives for school districts and charter schools that encourage high school students, grades 9-12, to complete qualified industry credential programs, pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships, and internships. An increasing number of students are taking advantage of this program, reducing the total reimbursement rate per pupil. Increasing funding for this program and creating a more reliable amount per outcome will allow more students to graduate from high school with an industry-recognized credential.

C. Concurrent Enrollment: Research funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences and the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab show that 82% of Colorado Concurrent Enrollment students continued in their postsecondary education compared to 77% of non Concurrent Enrollment students. Concurrent enrollment also provides students with the opportunity to earn college credit at no tuition cost to them or their families. Expanding access to concurrent enrollment opportunities helps students learn higher-level skills and credits toward a credential.

Recommendation Three: Establish a Statewide Longitudinal Data System

Colorado has committed to improving our state data systems. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to improve workforce data quality, the Colorado Department of Higher Education received $3 million from HB22-1349 to better analyze the value of higher education programs as they relate to outcomes, and a study mandated by HB21-1111 directed the state to identify where personally identifiable information is stored by state agencies throughout Colorado. These early improvements in our state’s data infrastructure have helped responsibly modernize our technology. However, we don’t have a complete view of how investments in workforce programs provide value to learners, employers, and the state’s economy. 

A longitudinal data system is capable of following learners and earners over the course of their education and training, providing valuable insight about what practices work. Colorado has many statewide data systems and data collaboratives. However, we do not have a system that can pull workforce outcome data from multiple sources to measure the impact and value of education and training over time. Better cross agency analytics lead to more evidence-based decision making.

Recommendation Four: Invest in High-impact Opportunities

The below recommendations reflect areas where collaborative leadership in workforce development will make a critical contribution to Colorado’s future. 

A. Infrastructure Workforce: Data show Colorado currently needs 33,500 infrastructure and construction workers, with an additional 50,000 by the end of the decade. Colorado has had labor shortages in building in construction trades for decades. These labor shortages are exacerbated by an aging workforce and increased demand to deliver on federal investments and support Colorado’s housing needs. Colorado is projected to need 6,098 construction laborers alone to respond to IIJA project needs, and according to E2’s 2023 Report on Clean Jobs Colorado, 20,000 clean energy jobs are also in construction. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry has shrunk 2.3% in Colorado this year. 

The capacity of our infrastructure workforce will directly impact our ability to:

  • Deliver IIJA and IRA projects on time and on budget;
  • Meet our ambitious climate goals; and
  • Build more housing for Coloradans. 

B. Advanced Manufacturing Workforce: Advanced manufacturing in Colorado generated $29.5 billion in economic impact. Careers in the industry span production, engineering, quality assurance, maintenance, and supply chain/logistics. There are several quality jobs within the industry that Coloradans can access without a college degree and the average annual wage for manufacturers in Colorado is 43% higher than the average annual wage for all industries. Skills in this industry support climate technology, medical devices, aerospace, broadband, and more. 

Colorado has a few opportunities that will increase the need for a high-skilled advanced manufacturing workforce: 

  • Colorado was designated an official tech hub for the quantum industry. With that designation, we earned the opportunity to compete for millions of dollars in federal funding to grow the quantum industry in Colorado.
  • Colorado will remain the home of Space Command, solidifying our place as a national leader in aerospace. This announcement will draw more investment into Colorado’s aerospace industry, and we need to develop talent to meet the forthcoming demand. 

C. Rural Workforce: Several recent state and federal investments focus on strengthening rural economies and the rural workforce. These investments have supported projects like the Colorado Rural Resiliency and Recovery Roadmap program and have advanced the state’s broadband goals. While these investments are bringing growth opportunities to Colorado’s rural communities, regional shortages in agricultural workers and veterinary services persist. Bringing the next generation of workers into the agricultural industry is important to the sustainability of rural economies and Colorado’s agricultural sector. Expanding the scope of practice for veterinary care could improve access to critical services in areas with a limited labor supply. 


Past Reports

2022 Talent Pipeline Report

2022 Report

2022 Talent Pipeline Report

2022 Talent Pipeline Report - Overview

2022 Appendices

Appendix A: Talent Pipeline Policy Success

Appendix B: Colorado Top Jobs

Appendix C: Colorado Top Jobs by Region

Appendix D: 2021-2022 Career Pathways Annual Report – HB15-1274

Appendix E: 2022 Sector Strategies Update

Appendix F: Career Development Incentive Program (CDIP) List of Approved Programs – HB16-1289

Appendix G: HB15-1170 PWR Coordinator Update 2022

Appendix H: PY21 WIOA Annual Report

Appendix I: Update on Colorado Data Trust

Appendix J: Glossary of Equity Terms

Appendix K: Update on Reskilling, Upskilling, and Next-skilling (RUN) from HB21-1264

2021 Talent Pipeline Report

2021 Report

2021 Talent Pipeline Report 

2021 Talent Pipeline Report - Overview

2021 Appendices

Appendix A: Colorado Top Jobs

Appendix B: Colorado Top Jobs by Region

Appendix C: 2020-2021 Career Pathways Annual Report – HB 15-1274

Appendix D: 2021 Sector Strategies Update

Appendix E: WORK Act Annual Report: FY 2020-2021

Appendix F: PY20 WIOA Annual Report

Appendix G: Talent Pipeline Policy Success

Appendix H: Career Development Incentive Program (CDIP) List of Approved Programs – HB 16-1289

Appendix I: HB 15-1170 PWR Coordinator Update 2021

Appendix J: Glossary of Equity Terms

Appendix K: Colorado Job Demand Visualization

2020 Talent Pipeline Report

2020 Report

2020 Talent Pipeline Report 

2020 Talent Pipeline Report - Overview

2020 Appendices

Appendix A: Talent Pipeline Policy Success

Appendix B: Colorado Top Jobs

Appendix C: Colorado Top Jobs by Region

Appendix D: 2020 Sector Strategies Update  

Appendix E: HB 15-1170 PWR Coordinator Update

Appendix F: WORK Act Annual Report: FY 2019-2020

Appendix G: Career Development Incentive Program (CDIP) List of Approved Programs – HB 16-1289

Appendix H: 2019-2020 Career Pathways Annual Report – HB 15-1274

Appendix I: Innovative Industries Internship Program Annual Report: FY 2019-2020

Appendix J: PY19 WIOA Annual Report

Appendix K: Colorado Job Demand Visualization

2019 Talent Pipeline Report

2019 Report

2019 Talent Pipeline Report - Print Version

2019 Talent Pipeline Report - Web Version

2019 Talent Pipeline Report - Overview

2019 Appendices

Appendix A: Talent Pipeline Policy Success

Appendix B: Colorado Top Jobs

Appendix C: Colorado Top Jobs by Region

Appendix D: 2019 Sector Strategies Update  

Appendix E: HB 15-1170 PWR Coordinator Update

Appendix F: Annual Report on Concurrent Enrollment: 2017-2018 Academic Year

Appendix G: Career Development Incentive Program (CDIP) List of Approved Programs – HB 16-1289/HB 18-1266

Appendix H: Education Industry Career Pathways FY19 – HB 15-1274

Appendix I: Innovative Industries Internship Program Annual Report: FY 2018-2019

Appendix J: HB 1288 Industry Infrastructure Grant CareerWise Annual Report: 2018-2019

Appendix K: WORK Act Annual Report: FY 2018-2019

Appendix L: PY18 WIOA Annual Report

Appendix M: Colorado Rises: Transforming Educational Practices through Open Educational Resources

Report on Income Share Agreements
CWDC Task Force Recommendations on Affordable Housing

2018 Talent Pipeline Report

2018 Report

2018 Talent Pipeline Report - Print Version

2018 Talent Pipeline Report - Web Version

2018 Talent Pipeline Report - Overview

2018 Appendices

Appendix A - 2018 Colorado Top Jobs

Appendix B - 2018 Colorado Top Jobs by Region

Appendix C - Talent Pipeline Policy Success

Appendix ​D​ - Cyber and Business Operations Career Pathways - HB 15-1274

Appendix ​E ​- 2018 Sector Strategies Update

Appendix ​F​ - PY17 WIOA Annual Report

Appendix G - WORK Act Annual Report

Appendix ​H ​- Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Coordinator Update - HB 15-1170

Appendix I - Industry Infrastructure Grant Report - HB 16-1288 - CRS 24-46.3-103

Appendix J - Career Success Development Program - List of Approved Industry-recognized Credentials - HB 16-1289

Appendix K - Innovative Industries Internship Program - HB 15-1230

2017 Talent Pipeline Report

2017 Report

2017 Talent Pipeline Report - Web Version

2017 Talent Pipeline Report - Overview

2017 Appendices

Appendix A1 - Top Jobs - Tier 1 by Occupation Cluster

Appendix A2 - Top Jobs - Tier 2 by Occupation Cluster

Appendix B1 - Top Jobs - Tier 1 by Education

Appendix B2 - Top Jobs - Tier 2 by Education

Appendix C - Top Jobs by Region

Appendix D - All Top Jobs Spreadsheet

Appendix E - Changes in Top Jobs from Last Year to this Year

Appendix F - Follow-up Activities from 2016 Recommendations

Appendix G - 2017 Sector Partnership Impact Survey

Appendix H - The Role of Gender Equity in Mobilizing Colorado’s Untapped Talent

Appendix I - 2Gen Work

Appendix J - Annual Reports on Recent State Legislation

Appendix K - PY16 WIOA Annual Report

Appendix L - Employment First Advisory Partnership Strategic Plan

Appendix N - WORK Act Annual Report

2016 Talent Pipeline Report

2016 Report

2016 Talent Pipeline Report

2016 Appendices

Appendix A - Top Jobs - Tier 1 by Occupation Cluster

Appendix A - Top Jobs - Tier 2 by Occupation Cluster

Appendix B - Top Jobs - Tier 1 by Education

Appendix B - Top Jobs - Tier 2 by Education

Appendix C - All Top Jobs Spreadsheet

Appendix D - Changes in Top Jobs from Last Year to this Year

Appendix E - HB 15-1170 PWR Coordinator Update

Appendix F - Top Jobs Skills

Appendix G - HB 16-1289 Career Development Success Pilot Program

Appendix H - Additional Information Regarding Specific Collaborators

Appendix I - Overview of Information Technology in Colorado

2015 Talent Pipeline Report

2015 Report

2015 Talent Pipeline Report - released October 2015

2014 Talent Pipeline Report

2014 Report

2014 Colorado Talent Pipeline Report (released January 2015)