Colorado’s labor force is facing an unprecedented shortage, and conventional trends alone won’t resolve the issue. The state’s tight labor market, with 2.7 jobs for every unemployed person, is resulting in a significant $46 billion loss in annual GDP. A substantial portion of the unemployed and marginally attached to the labor force are people with barriers to employment, such as disabilities, past incarceration, lack of childcare, and educational attainment challenges. To address these issues, employers, educational institutions, and the workforce system need to innovate and better align with the jobs of the future. Integrating basic education with job training, as seen in Washington State’s I-BEST program, and adopting Utah’s One Door policy for improved data sharing and support services are potential solutions. By addressing these barriers, Colorado can bridge the gap between labor demand and supply, leading to economic growth and improved opportunities for its workforce.

That’s from our report titled Colorado’s Workforce Woes Should Spell Opportunity for Economic Mobility and it’s the subject of this episode of Common Sense Digest. Joining Chairman and Host Earl Wright are Tamra Ryan, CEO of the Women’s Bean Project and CSI’s 2023 Coors Economic Mobility Fellow and Scott Laband, President of Colorado Succeeds, a non-partisan business advocacy organization focused

solely on education and workforce development. They discuss workforce participation, the challenges associated with early childcare, suggestions for moving forward and much more.

Tamra Ryan is the CEO of Women’s Bean Project, a social enterprise providing transitional employment in its food manufacturing business to women attempting to break the cycle of chronic unemployment and poverty. She serves as an Economic Mobility Fellow for Common Sense Institute Colorado. Tamra is a former partner and board member for Social Venture Partners-Denver and Social Enterprise Alliance.

Scott Laband is the president of Colorado Succeeds and has been with the organization since 2010. He is passionate about creating relevant and valuable educational experiences for young people through policy, practice, and philanthropy. He is on a mission to unlock opportunity for all young people and make Colorado the best place in America to raise a child and grow a business. Prior to Colorado Succeeds, Scott worked as the Legislative Director for Colorado Senator Mike Johnston, where he oversaw the policy agenda and served as the point person for both internal strategy negotiations with other Colorado state legislators and external relations and coalition-building with advocates and interest groups.