What We’re Watching: HB 1439

This legislative session, the Colorado Chamber has played a lead role and supported several workforce initiatives to bolster the state’s talent pipeline. One important bill that aligns with the Colorado Chamber’s 2024 legislative agenda is HB 1439, which would create a tax credit and grant program to support apprenticeships across the state. Senior Vice President Meghan Dollar testified in support of the bill today in the House Finance Committee.

Expanding apprenticeships was a key recommendation in the Colorado Chamber’s Education to Employment Alliance report, which was created in partnership with several education-focused groups to improve Colorado’s talent pipeline and engage with state leaders about needed reforms.

“Our alliance put out a report with several recommendations regarding workforce and noted several challenges,” Dollar said in her testimony. “One challenge being that too many small- and medium-sized employers say they don’t have the resources to offer apprenticeships or experiential learning, whether in terms of finances or the human resources needed to recruit and oversee apprenticeships and internships.”

The tax credit in HB 1439 would incentivize companies operating in new and emerging industries to expand their apprenticeship programs, which will open up new opportunities for Coloradans seeking employment in high-need fields. The amount of the tax credit is up to $6,300 for 6 months of employment plus up to $1,050 for each consecutive additional month of employment, for a maximum of up to $12,600 per apprentice per income tax year.

The grant program created in the bill would allow the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to award funding to apprenticeship intermediaries that connect employers and potential apprentices. This is a critical need in the workforce development space to ensure employers offering career-connected learning opportunities are supported.

Workforce challenges are a consistent concern in the Colorado Chamber’s annual business surveys. In our 2023 poll, it was among the top two issues identified by employers.