By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) – Sarah Lultchick is not what many would picture when they think of a welder.

“It’s been said more often than not women make excellent welders,” Lultchick said.

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She’s one of 70 apprentices at Denver Pipefitters JATC.

State lawmakers are hoping to entice more apprentices like her to help with a serious shortage of skilled labor in Colorado.

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It’s estimated the building trades will have a shortage of 60,000 workers in the state over the next three years.

State Rep.s Phil Covarrubius and Jessie Danielson are sponsors of a bill that would create a state apprenticeship directory.

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“For a lot kids, college is the right path but kids not go to college deserve same support and attention,” says Danielson.

The registry would be a one-stop shop for all registered apprenticeship programs where you could compare costs, compensation, curriculum and whether you get a license or on-the-job training.

Denver Pipefitters JATC is one of more than 440 registered apprenticeship programs in the state.

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Zach Collins is the training coordinator.

“It’s more about smart consumerism as much as it is about providing additional training opportunities and education opportunities for youth and adults looking to change careers,” Collins said.

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Lultchick wishes the directory was available when she was in school. She says she went to college for two years because it was the expectation, before meeting a couple pipefitters who told her about an apprenticeship in welding.

“The more I found out about it realized perfect fit for me.,” she said.

She has a message for other girls who may be hands-on learners like her but think the trades are just for guys.

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Sarah Lultchick (credit: CBS)

“I would say I was absolutely in their shoes. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I know I’ll be able to accomplish what I want in field I want and love my job for the rest of my life,” she said.

The legislation would require the Department of Labor to promote the directory to schools.

There is some opposition to the cost of setting it up and updating it – an estimated $30,000 a year – but the bill passed its first committee party-line.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4’s political specialist. She’s a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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