Joe Barela

As Director of Skillful Colorado, an initiative of the Markle Foundation, the state Colorado, Microsoft, and LinkedIn, Joe Barela and his team look to create a labor market that values a job seeker’s skills above all else. To this end, Joe brings people and organizations together to make sure that educators, trainers, and coaches have the tools they need to implement skills-based hiring and training practices.

Since joining Skillful in late 2017, Joe and his team have overseen the launch of Skillful’s Coaching Initiative and the Skillful State Network. Joe also works on Skillful’s Data Initiative, which seeks to increase educational and workforce data transparency and accessibility so that the entire workforce ecosystem can make high-quality, data-driven decisions.

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.
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.

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.