Construction bipartisan bills
Two bipartisan bills could help grow Colorado’s construction workforce through student scholarships and community college funding.
Introduced in March, Senate Bill 23-205 would provide scholarships to students pursuing education in high-demand fields, including construction. House Bill 23-1246 would provide community colleges with additional funding to provide training programs in high-demand fields at no cost to students.
Gov. Jared Polis has voiced support for both bills. “We are saving people money on training and education, making it easier for Coloradoans to get the skills they need to fill critical jobs and build careers they love,” he said in a press release.
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Colorado builders have struggled with labor shortages in recent years. Demand for new construction has soared just as many workers have started heading for retirement. Younger generations have shown less interest in the field, making it harder to replace those exiting workers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Colorado has about 180,000 workers in construction now but will need around 220,000 workers by 2027 to meet demand. That means the industry must attract about 8,000 new workers each year—for the next five years.
The scholarship bill would provide up to $1,500 to roughly 15,000 students—more than one-fourth of the graduating class of 2024—to help cover higher education or training expenses. Any graduating senior can apply but priority will be given to students pursuing jobs in industries with workforce shortages.
The other bill would spend $38.6 million to cover education costs—including tuition, fees, books and supplies—for students earning a certificate or associate degree in select fields at a public community or technical college. Eligible study areas include early education, nursing, construction, firefighting, law enforcement and forest management. Another $1.4 million would go to a competitive grant program offered by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment for building and construction apprenticeship programs.
If passed, funding for each bill would come from the state’s general fund and last two years.