Colorado has experienced a skilled labor shortage for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic further exposed the underlying problems in the workforce. The state has a high percentage of workers who are particularly vulnerable to forced closures compared with other states, yet those workers tend to lack the skills necessary to fill more secure, in-demand jobs in industries seeking skilled laborers.
The federal government and states have been involved in promoting vocational and workforce training for over a century and have gradually but extensively expanded the reach of its policies during that time.
Despite government intervention, Colorado still suffers from a severe skilled labor shortage in many industries.
The state and NGOs have produced countless resources to identify skills gaps in the state, but these cannot capture the full picture and are thus insufficient tools for developing solutions.
Because central planners will always fall short of the knowledge necessary to engineer the labor market properly, all public policy intended to address the labor needs of the economy must rely instead on free market principles.
Any government policies intended to address the skills gap must follow three tenets:
Market forces rather than central planning must drive solutions.
Any public funding must be tied to no more than two simple, specific, and easily measurable outcomes.
Government programs and incentives cannot be so overly cumbersome or complex as to prevent widespread use by industry and/or laborers.
An opportunity scholarship tax credit to incentivize the training of skilled laborers could serve as a possible solution to Colorado’s skills gap which follow the three tenets.