The Colorado Community College System (CCCS), in partnership with Education Design Lab (EDL) is expanding development of green energy and behavioral health “micro-pathways” from five to eight, aiming to solve skills gaps in two priority industries for Colorado.
Designed with input from learners and employers, micro-pathway programs combine two or more stackable credentials in high-growth, high-paying fields that can be completed in a year or less. Last year EDL awarded the Foundation for Colorado Community Colleges a $262,500 grant to design the pathways and is providing technical support to get the programs up and running.
Each of our colleges has special expertise and this work will enable students to benefit from that expertise no matter where they are in the state. – Annessa Stagner Stulp, energy pathways program manager with CCCS
“The design team, representing eight colleges from the CCCS, has done incredible work over the past year to create learner-focused employer-validated, micro-pathways,” said Rachel Kahn, education designer with EDL. “This work is timed well to support a great deal of excitement around both behavioral health and renewable energy work across Colorado.”
The new pathways come as Colorado looks to fill key shortages in both sectors. By the end of the decade, openings for environmental engineering technician jobs are expected to grow by 20% and 28% among substance use and mental health counselors, according to data from the 2022 Talent Pipeline Report.
“This project is especially exciting because it’s giving us an opportunity to develop programs that can be shared among colleges across the state,” said Annessa Stagner Stulp, energy pathways program manager with CCCS. “Each of our colleges has special expertise and this work will enable students to benefit from that expertise no matter where they are in the state.”
Five CCCS colleges—Arapahoe Community College, Community College of Aurora (CCA), Community College of Denver, Northeastern Junior College, and Pueblo Community College—will pilot a mix of the micro-pathways this spring semester.
Available behavioral health pathways will include Patient Navigator, Peer Support Specialist, Addiction Recovery Aide, Behavioral Health Aide, and Behavioral Health +, which provides foundational skills that apply to many positions. Green energy tracks will include Solar Photovoltaic Installer, Advanced Solar Photovoltaic Technician, and Renewable Energy Technician.
For CCA, micro-pathways align well with the college’s mission to guide students to sustainable careers, says Julie Stewart, interim senior workforce development officer.
“CCA is excited to be partnering with EDL and other CCCS schools to develop our renewable energy pathways so that students, upskilling learners and re-careering individuals will have the opportunity to get industry credentials that lead to economic viability and mobility.”