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ICYMI: Hickenlooper Talks Future of Work with Axios

Sep 19, 2023

WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, last week, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper appeared at an Axios Live event with Axios Today’s Niala Boodhoo to discuss the future of the workforce, apprenticeships, and the emerging role of AI.

Watch HERE, or see highlights below. 

On his personal experience as a small business owner and how it helps inform workforce policymaking

“You know, I was in the restaurant business, and we were always trying to figure out where’s the talent, who can we hire, how can we train them in such a way that not only will they have the skills, but will they have the right values, will they be loyal to our enterprise and will they share our vision. Well, that’s the same thing people are trying to do in government, in how we train the workforce. We need to create a whole new cadre. I mean if you look at the CHIPS and Science Act that was passed, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, and the Inflation Reduction Act, there are significant resources in every one of the bills to actually make sure that we can hire the right people and train them to create the workforce.”

On how our emerging workforce must be trained to work alongside AI

“When we’re thinking about the workforce of 2023 and 2024, what do you see as the biggest gaps here?”

“Well obviously the STEM trades…and it’s not just the people that are going to write code for the internet, or work towards the creation of AI, or even advanced quantum computing, but all the support staff. So, as we get more AI introduced into the workplace, we need a much better level of training for what everybody understands about dealing with this digital future. I mean, this is going to be one of the greatest opportunities in the history of the country…but has the potential to be one of the greatest challenges that we’ve ever faced. We are not training our kids in ways to be prepared to – again, not just to create code – but to be the interface between this new generation of a workforce that had different demands and the jobs that actually have to be accomplished.” 

On his Community College Agriculture Advancement Act

“We’ve been working on a Community College Agriculture bill…for the first time we are trying to fund community colleges to provide skills, through experiential training – you know, working on the job – but also getting out ahead of the pigeonholes that we historically have had, and saying that people who work in rural America, in agriculture jobs or agriculture related jobs, the demands for them to understand technology or to work with technology are just as great as any other jobs in the city or suburbs. And yet, historically, we have excluded that from a lot of what our community colleges can teach. Certainly they have been excluded from federal funding, Pell grants and things like that, which would expand dramatically our reach with these programs.”

On bipartisanship in workforce policy development

“Especially in the workforce we have the potential to be bipartisan up and down the line. Right now, the country is so divided, we need to embrace those places where everyone can get on the same page, whether it’s Republicans or Democrats. Workforce isn’t one or the other, this is something that is all hands on deck and that has the potential to be a unifying process. We see this in the subcommittee work in the Senate and the House, where people that have been scowling at each other from across the aisle are suddenly saying, huh, I haven’t thought of it that way, but you’re right, I share that goal and this is a different way to get someplace where I want to be.”

Hickenlooper chairs the Senate HELP Committee’s Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee.


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