Appointed on January 8th, 2019 by Governor Jared Polis, Joe Barela leads the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Dedicating much of his life to workforce development, Joe has been part of numerous organizations, with the goal to prepare America’s workforce for the future.
Leading up to this role, Joe was the Director at Skillful Colorado, an initiative of the Markle Foundation, the state Colorado, Microsoft, and LinkedIn. Joe led his team, striving to create a labor market that values a job seeker’s skills above all else. To this end, Joe was able to bring people and organizations together to make sure those educators, trainers, and coaches had the tools they needed to implement skills-based hiring and training practices.
With 25 years’ experience in workforce issues, he is seen as a local and national leader in the field. He adapts easily to change, and values out-of-the-box thinking when solving problems. Joe is passionate about creating more opportunities for better career pathways for working Americans. Prior to Skillful, Joe served the U.S. Department of Labor in 2015 as a Senior Advisor; he helped coordinate the U.S. Department of Labor’s implementation of the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) at state and local levels. He also spent 12 years as the Executive Director of Arapahoe Douglas Workforce region, and the Division manager of AD Works.
Joe is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder. He furthered his skillset by obtaining two certificates: in 2007, he completed the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Executive Development Program, and in 2014, he finished the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania’s Workforce Leadership Development Program.