The Role of Higher Education in Colorado’s Economic Success



The Colorado Business Roundtable (CBR) “engages with elected leaders, leaders of businesses and nonprofits and other strategic allies to improve the business climate in our state by shamelessly amplifying the voice businesses all over Colorado “.

Debbie Brown is the president of the Colorado Business Roundtable.

On May 19, CBR hosted a live, virtual roundtable with leading educators on how their institutions are actively contributing to Colorado’s economic success.

Opening of the debate,
Debbie Brown, President of CBR, explained that during the summer and fall of 2020, CBR began working closely with Kristin Strohm and the Common Sense Institute on the Road to Recovery (ROR) initiative, a vehicle “to formulate and influence public policy through collaboration and research in response to the economic realities of the pandemic.” The group of “thought leaders from diverse industry backgrounds” who spearheaded the MMR initiative identified “three pillars for a sustainable, growing and global economy that will position Colorado for long-term economic success.” These pillars are 1) prioritizing a competitiveness agenda; 2) reinventing the Colorado workforce; and 3) invest in the infrastructure of the future.

Former Secretary of Education for the State of New Mexico, Hanna Skandera assumed the role of CEO of the Daniels Fund in December 2020.

Before educators spoke, attendees heard from RBC board member Lloyd lewis, who is 16 years olde year as president of ARC Thrift Stores. This company alone has contributed $ 100 million to the defense of people with Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and many other intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Lewis told the crowd, “We (ARC) were named as a core business by the state last year. Our company has been recognized as adding $ 300 billion to the economy. We help people with IDD, serving 10,000 families.

Dr. Becky Takeda-Tinker was the first president of CSU Global. She is currently responsible for educational innovation for the CSU system.

ARC helps people find jobs and get services. They also advocate for humane treatment and work to deinstitutionalize people with IDD. Lewis shared his personal story. “My son Kennedy is 17 and has Down’s syndrome. That’s why I joined the CRA. Eighty percent of people with DID are unemployed. There are over 50,000 people waiting to make a difference in your organization. Help us harness the great talent of people with DID. The CRA is today announcing a $ 10,000 scholarship to help a person with IDD pursue their future. “

Lloyd Lewis is in his 16th year as President and CEO of Arc Thrift Stores, which employs 1,400 people in 31 retail stores in Colorado.

Dr Becky Takeda-Tinker, Director of Educational Innovation for the CSU System and CBR Board Member, spoke about the future. She told the group that one in three workers will be displaced because of the technology (for example, those who answer the phone, do the planning), which will result in a 17-20 percent decrease in office workers. She added: “We will have 30% more healthcare workers and 36% more workers in higher paying jobs (which will need) technological skills, social and emotional skills, critical thinking and creativity… going to get ready for.

Dr. Bernard McCune leads DPS initiatives in concurrent enrollment, student counseling and engagement, career education through Emily Griffith College, advanced internships, and International Baccalaureate programs.

Recently appointed CEO of the Daniels Fund, Hanna skandera, asked the educator panelists: “How do we trace the paths to opportunities and reinvent choices so that no one is left behind?” “

Dr Pamela Toney President of CSU Global, highlighted her school’s focus on providing students with college credit for life experience, such as military service. Having graduated over 20,000 students in ten years, CSU Global is “data driven, always looking for ways to improve our programs. Many of our students are receiving funding from their employers and COVID has interrupted that. We hope to see those tuition reimbursement programs that were cut during COVID… return. “

Dave Davia is Executive Vice President and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Mechanical Contractors Association and has co-chaired the Colorado Road to Recovery Initiative.

Asked how the DPS identified the diverse needs of students, Dr Bernard McKuneDPS, Senior Executive Director for Career and Academic Success, said, “It is really important to work with every student using ICAP (Individual Academic Career Plan) starting in college to identify their professional passions. It helps them understand their interests and provides a way to have meaningful career exploration opportunities…. All of our students will have careers. Some will require a college education, but all require rigorous training. Internships and simultaneous registrations are important elements. We need to learn from you, businesses, the skills our students need to be successful.

Dr. Joe Garcia is Chancellor of the Colorado Community College System and a former Lieutenant Governor of Colorado.

Dr Joe Garcia, Chancellor of the Colorado Community Colleges System, said, “I think a good general liberal arts education is a good tool for everyone. While he recognizes the importance of ICAP, “I would say it’s not as effective a tool as we would like because people change their minds (as they get older),” said Garcia.

Regarding the cost of higher education, Garcia explained, “Why is higher education so expensive? Because full-wage students have a lot of options. Most students pay more attention to equipment (climbing walls and dining rooms and dormitories) when visiting campuses. He said upper-middle-class parents “will pay whatever it takes” if their student enters an expensive school like Stanford, Harvard or CU. Garcia said, “We can provide a good community college education, but parents who can afford more expensive schools for their children are using them.”

Mark Kennedy has served as the president of the University of Colorado system, including campuses in Boulder, Denver, Colorado Springs, and the Anschutz School of Medicine in Aurora since 2019.

To Skandera’s question: “When you think about your students and what’s possible, where do you think we’re going with technology in education? », President of CU Mark Kennedy said: “It was accelerating very quickly before the pandemic. The pandemic made it go even faster. … We are not producing enough people in cybersecurity and analytics. We need to get them to start thinking about it in college. We have the best campuses in the world, but the campus is not for everyone, so digital will also allow us to extend a CU education to everyone, including rural students. He added, “We make sure our online offerings are accessible to people with disabilities. “

When Skandera said to Dave davila, CEO of the Rocky Mountain Mechanical Contractors Association, “You could argue that higher education is not the solution for everyone,” Davila replied, “I am the person who is not on this panel. We operate five campuses with 252 hours of instruction and approximately 1,800 hours of on-the-job learning. He offered the comparison that “27% of those (who have gone to) university are working in the field they have studied. In our world, it’s 97%, ”adding,“ This pandemic has taught us that construction workers are essential workers. ”

Dr. Pamela Toney is President of CSU Global, a fully online university serving students from every state in the United States, every county in Colorado, and more than 60 countries.

Davila explained, “Our proposal has been lost on parents since the 1980s. Most high schools don’t have the store-type classes they used to have. I think our members have something unique to offer parents. We can start paying you on the first day at no cost other than $ 1,000 for book fees and after four to five years you come out with a profession that can’t be outsourced or offshored… Our students have the collaboration, the resolution of problems and communication. skills. Most start with a job of around $ 70,000. We are quite proud of the fact that our association has been in existence for 150 years. He gives this advice to young people: “Consider a path in the trades. I went to CU for six months. I wasn’t concentrating on my studies. (This made the whole room laugh and probably in many homes.) Higher education is not for everyone. We now employ 180,000 people and we will need 50,000 more in the next five years.

Garcia agreed, adding, “High school isn’t enough anymore, but that doesn’t mean you have to go to college. Trades are a real option.

Toney added, “At CSU Global, we’ve always envisioned the workforce of tomorrow. As we all know, the path you start on when you’re 18 is not the path you take in your 40s and 50s. CSU Global helps people get the education they need to the next level where we want to go. We focus on our partnerships with industry to make sure we give people the skills they need… Our average student is 35 years old and has a family. They focus on the direction they want to take in their career. We know that education is a lifelong journey. We have the ability to develop different short-term programs and training to help our students and the industries they work in.

Deloitte, ARC Thrift Stores and Common Sense Institute sponsored the RBC program.

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