A new collaborative partnership aims to train thousands of new healthcare apprentices to support the state’s immediate efforts to contain COVID-19’s spread, while providing apprentices pathways for long term careers in health related fields.

Through training developed by The Colorado Public Health Workforce Collaborative, apprentices will be equipped as contact tracers, case investigators and resource coordinators to investigate positive cases, trace individuals who may have been exposed, and connect individuals to valuable resources to avoid unintentional spread of the virus.

“As testing increases across the state, containment efforts, such as contact tracing, must increase to ensure we contain the spread of the virus to the best of our ability,” said Sarah Lampe, President and Executive Director of Trailhead Institute representing the Workforce Collaborative. “Contact tracing is one of the oldest – and most reliable – tools in public health used to contain communicable diseases that have few or no treatment.”

Local public health agencies and the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment are recruiting these necessary new employees right now.

“As the state takes actions to re-open businesses, schools, public spaces, and other institutions that are essential to ensuring our economy recovers, building a robust epidemiology workforce to investigate cases and trace contacts is essential,” said Governor Jared Polis. “That is why the State of Colorado, Trailhead Institute, the Colorado Public Health Workforce Collaborative, and the Colorado Community College System are coming together to get this workforce prepared and working.”

Contact tracer skills are attainable and transferable to other occupations. This is where the Colorado Community College System comes in. Through Colorado Healthcare Experiential Pathways to Success (CO-HELPS), a $12 million grant program funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, Arapahoe Community College and the Community College of Denver will use a portion of the funds to develop healthcare programs that align with existing contact tracing training.

“As we continue to respond and design programs that meet the needs of our healthcare system, our goal for this partnership is to provide career exploration that leads contact tracer apprentices to our college’s health programs and long term employment, since contact tracing is a time limited occupation,” said Joe Garcia, chancellor of the Colorado Community College System.

Click here to watch the September 8 press conference with Governor Polis.

Source: Colorado Community College System