The state wants to help businesses train and build future workforces — and the opportunity is now.

Through the Innovation Industries Internship Program, businesses can be reimbursed for 50 percent of their internship costs through a matching grant of up to $5,000.

Companies must work in advanced manufacturing, aerospace, bioscience or construction, and can apply for funding through Feb. 15 at colorado.gov/cdle/innovativeindustries.

“A project CAMA has been focused on since its inception has been workforce development,” said Tim Heaton, president of Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance. “It’s a competitive program and has been wildly successful.”

Funding was awarded for House Bill 15-1230 in August 2015; the program was launched in January 2016. The bill authorized up to $450,000 annually, for five years; 80 percent will go to businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

“We are also close to launching the Swiss Youth Apprenticeship Model in Colorado, a youth apprenticeship program,” Heaton said. “When we started it, it was called BASIC [Business and Schools in Collaboration]. Our goal is for businesses to begin with interns and then take them to next step — apprenticeships.”

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Interns must acquire at least 130 hours of on-the-job training within six months and be paid at minimum $10 an hour. Awardees will be announced March 15 and businesses will be reimbursed after the internship is complete.

“The legislature is focused on closing the skills gap that exists in Colorado,” State Rep. Mike Foote said in a March 2015 news release. “These internships and apprenticeships will connect our students with employers, build a stronger Colorado workforce and continue to attract innovative businesses to Colorado.”