Last month, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation to assist the state’s workforce development programs that support the needs of business for a 21st Century workforce.

House Bill 1302, sponsored by Reps. Crisanta Duran and Brian DelGrosso and Sens. Linda Newell and Larry Crowder, passed earlier this year with bipartisan support in both chambers.

The legislation aligns the current state workforce statutes with the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, passed by Congress in 2014. The laws strengthen national workforce development activities, focusing on vulnerable workers, expanding education and training to address needs for high-skilled labor.

Under the new federal law, states must work with community based organizations, higher education and nonprofit providers. In Colorado, new working relationships are being strengthen between local workforce centers and providers in both the public and private sectors.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment says the state has taken the first step in implementing federal law under the innovation act. The Department of Education’s adult education programs is now partnering with the department of labor to strengthen services. Work is also going on to merge the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation into the Department of Labor and Employment.

These efforts will better position workforce centers throughout Colorado to serve the targeted populations outlined in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and House Bill 16-1302, according to news from the state’s labor department.