Colorado Public Works Journal, Spring 2024

SPRING 2024┃57 Workforce Development in Colorado’s Utility Construction Industry in 2024 Christine Barnes is the Executive Director of the Colorado Chapter of NUCA and can be contacted at Colorado’s utility construction industry stands at the forefront of a dynamic and ever-evolving landscape. With the increasing demand for infrastructure development and the integration of renewable energy sources, the sector faces new challenges and opportunities. Workforce development emerges as a pivotal factor, driving the industry towards sustainable growth and innovation. The utility construction industry in Colorado has witnessed a surge in demand driven by both urbanization and the push towards cleaner energy solutions. This growth, however, has not been without its challenges, primarily in the form of a skilled labor shortage. As the industry evolves, the need for a highly skilled and diverse workforce becomes increasingly apparent. Recognizing the importance of workforce development, industry leaders, educational institutions, and government bodies in Colorado have come together to spearhead initiatives aimed at addressing the skills gap. Collaborative efforts between utility construction companies and vocational training programs have been instrumental in designing specialized training curricula to equip workers with the skills needed for the modern utility construction landscape. NUCA of Colorado adds to this initiative in the form of quarterly training and safety lunch and learns on the industry’s hot topics. One notable strategy gaining traction is the promotion of apprenticeship programs. These programs provide a hands-on learning experience, combining classroom instruction with practical, on-the-job training. By partnering with local technical schools and community colleges, utility construction companies in Colorado are fostering a pipeline of skilled workers who are ready to tackle the challenges of the industry. The utility construction industry is no stranger to technological advancements. The integration of innovative technologies, such as augmented reality, drones, and advanced machinery, has become a defining characteristic of the sector. Workforce development programs are now aligning their training modules to ensure that the next generation of workers is proficient in handling these sophisticated tools. This not only enhances operational efficiency but also positions Colorado’s workforce as leaders in the adoption of innovative construction techniques. One of NUCA of Colorado’s member companies had an event that involved a piece of live machinery and a simulator. A young student that had practiced on the simulator for quite a while got on the live machinery and said that the only thing missing from the simulator was “the shaking.” In 2024, workforce development in Colorado’s utility construction industry stands as a linchpin for progress. The collaborative efforts between industry stakeholders, educational institutions, and government bodies are paving the way for a skilled, diverse, and technologically adept workforce. As the sector continues to evolve, the emphasis on sustainable practices and inclusive growth positions Colorado as a trailblazer in the utility construction landscape, ready to meet the challenges of the future head-on. NUCA of Colorado lobbies in Washington DC in May and one of the initiatives we will discuss is including trade schools in scholarship programs. For a full list of events, trainings and meetings, visit our website Upcoming Events: Mar 13 Virtual Safety Roundtable Mar 14/15 Crew Leader Training Mar 20–23 NUCA National Convention & Exhibit Palm Springs Mar 27 Scholarship Cornhole NATIONAL UTILITY CONTRACTORS ASSOCIATION Christine Barnes