Rep. Martinez talks ‘in-demand, high priority’ jobs with first lady Jill Biden

Photo courtesy of Rep. Matthew Martinez's office Rep. Matthew Martinez (second from the front on the left) in a sit-down with first lady Jill Biden, who is seated next to Gov. Jared Polis, at the state capitol on Monday. Martinez, Gov. Polis and other bi-partisan legislators spoke with Biden about legislative steps being taken in the state to develop and grow a well-trained workforce prepared to fill in-demand, high priority jobs in multiple sectors.

ALAMOSA– Rep. Matthew Martinez (D-D62) was provided a rare opportunity earlier this week when he was selected to be part of a small group of bipartisan legislators who sat down for a conversation with first lady Jill Biden during her visit to the state capitol.

At the invitation of Gov. Jared Polis, Biden came to learn about steps the governor and bi-partisan legislature have taken to “fill in-demand jobs and make sure Colorado’s workforce has the skills and resources to thrive.”  

Biden has her Ph.D. in educational leadership with more than two decades spent teaching at the community college level. That background, plus the focus of her visit, provided a natural in-road for Martinez to brief her on SB23-205, the legislation he is co-sponsoring in the House.

If passed, the “Universal High School Scholarship Program” calls for a $25 million expenditure to provide a $1,500 scholarship for recipients to take to any approved training provider in Colorado, from apprenticeship and on-the-job training to trade school, community colleges, and colleges and universities.

The financial support has the capacity to serve 15,000 graduating students in the Class of 2024, more than 25% of all high school graduates statewide.

The term “scholarship” is often associated with attending a college or university, but “in-demand, high priority” careers after high school extend far into other areas.

“What is currently outlined as an in-demand job would include jobs in healthcare, manufacturing, education, jobs in construction, finance, engineering, STEM, IT and behavioral and mental health,” Martinez says. “Adams State and Trinidad State students would definitely benefit from this bill.”

To be eligible, those providers of training and education would either have to be on a list disseminated by the Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment, listed in the Colorado state apprenticeship resource directory, associated with an organization approved by the office of service providers or associated with a public or private institution of higher education operating in Colorado.

The $1,500 scholarship would be distributed by that individual or organization to the student to be used for tuition, materials, books and or fees.

Rep. Martinez also noted that he is co-sponsoring SB23-205.

For his part, Gov. Polis went more in-depth on the topic.

“Here in Colorado,” Polis said, “we know that our strong workforce drives our success, and we are continuing to take bold action to fill in-demand jobs and save people money on training and education, which is why we were proud to welcome first lady Dr. Jill Biden to Colorado to see firsthand how we are expanding opportunity for the people of our state to get skills and training that lead to real success. Through effective state investments combined with landmark federal support, we are saving people money on training and education and expanding access to opportunities for Coloradans at every level of learning."

Earlier in March, Polis, bipartisan state legislators, community college leaders, community members, and students announced both SB23-205 and legislation that would provide “zero-cost credentials” in other areas including early childhood education, firefighting, law enforcement, forest management and, again, construction.