Career Pathways

In Colorado, industry-driven, competency-based career pathways ensure that education, training, and workforce systems stay attuned and responsive to the needs of the labor market in order to:

  • Ensure businesses have access to appropriately skilled talent pipeline. 
  • Prepare students and workers with the skills and credentials they need for jobs and careers.

Annually, CWDC and the Colorado Community College System engage in a collaborative effort to integrate pertinent career pathway information into My Colorado Journey

Recent Activities

Construction & Infrastructure, and Agriculture & Natural Resources Added to My Colorado Journey

The CWDC launched two new career pathways in My Colorado Journey in June 2023: Construction and Agriculture. Individuals interested in these industries now have access to meaningful information that connects them to work, education, and support services. Learn more about the in-demand industries within the state of Colorado through these career pathways.

Next Pathways 

Starting 07/11/2023 - 06/30/2024, the CWDC will be working on Aerospace and Protective Services career pathways.

Definitions & Resources

Career Pathway System

A career pathway system is made up of multiple career pathway programs that span educational institutions, workforce, and support service partners. A career pathway system aligns public partners and engages them in a continuous conversation that is led by industry to ensure that job seekers and students move seamlessly through and among support programs, educational institutions, training opportunities, and work-based experiences to build skills and credentials that meet industry demand and prepare them for jobs and careers.

Career Pathway Programs

A career pathway program offers a clear sequence of stackable credits and credentials, combined with support services, which enables students and job-seekers to secure industry-relevant skills, certifications, and credentials and advance to higher levels of education and employment in high-demand occupations.  

Competency-based Hiring, Education, and Training

Colorado is facing a skills gap that, if unaddressed, will diminish the ability of the economy to grow and limit the upward mobility of individuals throughout the state. Shifting our talent development network to embrace a competency-based approach to hiring, education, and training has been identified as a key strategy to address this gap and keep Colorado’s economy and its citizens moving forward. A competency-based approach is necessary because skills are the best predictor of a successful hiring outcome and competency-based models expand access to education opportunities beyond high school. 


Upskilling Frontline Retail Employees Report: A Statewide Approach to Preparing Hospitality, Tourism, Food and Beverage Services, and Retail Employees for the Future of Work - This report shares lessons learned from Colorado’s Lives Empowered initiative, which sought to support and sustain the launch of retail sector partnerships with the goal of piloting upskilling training programs for incumbent retail workers, including those in hospitality, food services, and tourism. It outlines what the CWDC learned throughout the process of implementing the initiative and provides communities with a guiding resource to design programs that meet their unique workforce and economic needs, regardless of location, population density, or industry mix. It also emphasizes the power of upskilling initiatives to address employment disparities in marginalized populations, including women and people of color, who were disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Building Industry-Driven Career Pathway Systems in Colorado: Step by Step Guide. 

Career Pathways Toolkit: A Guide for System Development: Toolkit for state partners developing WIOA Unified Plan. 

Career Pathways: Catalog of Toolkits: List of toolkits to help career pathways initiative stakeholders.

CDE Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness (PWR) Pathways Resources: Information and state guidance to advance PWR

CDLE Apprenticeships: Information on apprenticeships. 

Colorado Labor Market Information: Colorado Labor Market Information. 

Colorado Talent Dashboard: Understand needs of the labor market.

Colorado Talent Pipeline Report: Annual report with current labor trends. 

Competency Model Clearinghouse: Detailed competency models.  

Connecting Colorado: Job seekers can find job postings. 

CTE Secondary Pathways:  Colorado Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways and information for secondary program areas.

CTE Career Clusters: Career clusters for Colorado Career and Technical Education (CTE).

ICAP Toolkit: Individual Career and Academic Plan.

My Colorado Journey: Comprehensive career, postsecondary, job, financial aid and literacy exploration and planning.

Stakeholder Guidebook: A guidebook with step-by-step guidance for creating local and regional initiatives around demand-driven evidence-based career pathways.

The Power and Promise of Pathways, Hans Meeder: Comprehensive look at pathways. 

My Colorado Journey

My Colorado Journey is a free resource that centralizes the state’s most powerful career, education, and human services resources in one user-friendly online platform. Users are guided along a  journey that’s personalized to their needs, desires, and stage of life. An innovative recommendation engine generates suggested goals and maps out the action steps needed to accomplish each goal. Users are able to find and explore careers in the growing Colorado industry.

 Explore Career Pathways

Interactive, regional career pathways modules exist for 13 industries:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Agriculture & Natural Resources
  • Behavioral Health
  • Business Operations
  • Construction
  • Cybersecurity
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Healthcare
  • Information Technology
  • Public Health
  • Retail
  • Transportation 

Career Pathway System Building


Colorado Approach

To prepare, publish, and implement career pathways, the CWDC takes a three phased approach:

Phase 1 - Sector Development

Phase 2 - Career Pathways Systems Development

Phase 3 - Career Pathways Program Development and Outreach

Sector Development

Organize public partners and businesses through sector strategies to prioritize industry needs and identify critical occupations, knowledge, skills, and abilities in the chosen occupation field.

System Development

CWDC office staff build out the career pathways and publish the information on Careers in Colorado. Pathways are vetted with industry partners to ensure they are responsive to the needs of business.

Program Development & Outreach

Work with public partners to develop education and training programs along the career pathway to enable students and job seekers to secure industry-relevant skills, certifications, and credentials that will help them advance to higher levels of education and employment along the pathway.

How Do I Build Career Pathways?

The CWDC released the Building Industry-Driven Career Pathway Systems in Colorado Step-by-Step Guide in the fall of 2016. This guide outlines a step-by-step approach to building industry-driven career pathway systems that align education and training programs with the needs of the regional economy to ensure that students and job seekers are prepared the right skills and experiences to get jobs in the driving sectors of their local economies. This guide is designed for workforce boards, educational institutions, and employers seeking to build a career pathway system for their community.

To view this guide and other career pathway building resources, check out our career pathways resources.