Reflections on the Final Retreat of the Second Skillful Governor’s Coaching Corps

Last week, the career coaches of the second cohort of the Colorado Skillful Governor’s Coaching Corps graduated from the intensive leadership and skills development program.

Over the past nine months, the 33 Colorado career coaches participating in the Corps have not only learned important skills and strategies to complement the great work they already do, they also built a statewide network of supportive peers.

“The Skillful Governor’s Coaching Corps is a really important way to help Coloradans, especially those who don’t have a four-year degree, find and secure a great job that utilizes their skills in an ever-changing economy. Coaches like you play a key role in helping people find meaningful jobs that they are truly passionate about and allow them to support themselves and their families.” – Colorado Governor Jared Polis, in a congratulatory video to Corps participants

To help their clients succeed in today’s economy, the coaches honed their coaching skills and were introduced to tools and methods designed to pinpoint job seekers’ existing skills and translate and highlight them in ways employers can understand. They built their emotional and positive intelligence to better connect with the people they serve and learned design thinking principles to address complex problems. They built high performing teams and learned how to strategically persuade, negotiate, and handle difficult conversations.

Coaches applied these skills directly in the program as they worked on action team projects. In these projects, they pooled their on-the-ground expertise, conducted their own research, and explored promising practices to address some of the most pressing workforce issues facing Coloradans. This research culminated in presentations to Microsoft and state leaders in education and workforce. During these presentations they outlined their work and provided recommendations on how to move forward, including how to:

  • Prepare coaches and job seekers for the future of work
  • Serve underemployed older workers
  • Develop a program model to more effectively place middle-skilled job seekers into employment
  • Promote the adoption of credit for prior learning by higher education institutions
  • Leverage platforms like LinkedIn to connect employers and job seekers with career coaches
  • Increase awareness of alternative pathways to success outside of, or beyond, a four-year college degree

Throughout the presentations some common themes emerged: many emphasized the importance of individual career coaching for job seeker success and how ongoing training and professional development for coaches is critical to ensure quality services are provided. Many also discussed how digital tools can help prepare coaches and their clients for the future of work, and how understanding a client’s values can increase their motivation and commitment to the work. Stay tuned for updates on how Skillful will adopt these recommendations in our programs and with partners across the state.

As with last year’s graduation, I felt some sadness as I watched these extraordinary coaches wrap up their experience in the Corps. The coaches’ commitment to their profession and to the Coloradans they serve gives me a real sense of hope for our future. I look forward to seeing their impact and relationships grow on the Skillful Coaching Community of Practice.

Hearing how the program has helped them better serve their clients reinforced the reasoning that led to the creation of the Corps: that, in order to navigate the changes automation, artificial intelligence, and other technology will continue to bring, workers will need the unique in-person support coaches provide. Investment in high quality professional development for career coaches as well as increasing access to in-person career coaching will become even more critical as the future of work unfolds.

Many thanks to Colorado Governor Jared Polis for his support, the representatives from Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, Colorado Workforce Development Council, Colorado Community College System, Colorado Department of Education, Colorado Department of Human Services, and Colorado Rural Workforce Consortium who provided insightful feedback to the coaches’ presentations, as well as the coaches’ supervisors and organizations, without whose support the program would have been impossible. Thank you to Microsoft Philanthropies for their ongoing partnership and support of this work that is truly making a difference in Colorado. Thank you to Ripp Leadership, Lauren Hirshon, American Institutes for Research, and LinkedIn for their incredible work with the Skillful Governor’s Coaching Corps over the course of this program.

Applications for the third cohort of the Skillful Governor’s Coaching Corps will be made available this summer.