[caption id="attachment_229762" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Desa Burton, executive director of Zip Code Wilmington, is hoping to launch a health care training program in the next year with the similar format as Zip Code Wilmington. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
SEAFORD — Zip Code Wilmingtonis expanding its training program, not only with a second location in the future Nylon Capital Shopping Center but with a possible new curriculum for the health care sector.Zip Code Wilmington Executive Director Desa Burton confirmed that the nonprofit will be a tenant of the center on Stein Highway, once the redevelopment project is complete. In 2022, 9th Street Development Company announced it would redevelop the waning shopping center that at the time had a 20% occupancy rate.“Tech is everywhere,” Burton told Delaware Business Times. “In order to ensure that the First State remains competitive with a tech-ready workforce, we need to ensure that talented people throughout Delaware have access to accessible and affordable, high-quality software development training.”At this time, Burton said that the square footage in The Mill in the Seaford shopping center and its employment base has yet to be determined.Zip Code Wilmington is a 12-week program that teaches software coding that focuses on providing adults the technical and soft skills to start a career in the software developer job market. Launched in 2015, the program has more than 650 alumni and currently rents space at The Mill in downtown Wilmington, which was also launched by 9th Street Development Company co-founder Rob Herrera.The nonprofit has a rough graduation rate of 95%, and more than 85% of its students are hired within six months. Students come from all over the state as well as neighboring states and occasionally even further. Right now, students from Kent and Sussex counties are less than 25% of total enrollment, Burton said.Zip Code is also exploring the possibility of using the same training format for the medical field in the Nylon Capital Shopping Center. The program would be called Zip Care, and would offer upskilling and reskilling for adults to entry-level positions as nursing or medical assistants. The concept is still being developed, but Burton said that the hope is Zip Care would be launched in 2024.“Zip Care would have a mission to develop the economy of the region by providing health care training to high-potential individuals with the talent, desire, and interest needed to become entry-level health care professionals with the skills needed to grow, advance, and succeed in the health care industry,” she said.Burton also pointed to the need for entry-level medical talent in Sussex and Kent counties. Last year there were 4,310 nursing assistants and 2,830 medical assistants in the state, with a mean average salary between $36,670 and $38,105, according to the Delaware Department of Labor.Kent County had 890 nursing assistants and 340 medical assistants in 2022, while Sussex County had 950 nursing assistants and 610 medical assistants.“There is a tremendous need for entry level medical talent in Sussex and Kent County. Zip Care would begin to help fill the talent gap which could change the economic viability of the region,” Burton said.Zip Code will reach out to employers in the area to understand what skills are needed for these jobs and what gaps they are seeing in new hires, as well as understanding the federal and state guidelines needed to run the program. Once launched, Zip Care will run out of the Nylon Capital Shopping Center, but Burton said the hope is to expand the program statewide.“We envision that the program will be innovative and comprehensive, and approach this training from a holistic and career-oriented perspective,” she added.
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