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Delaware launches job retraining program

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Gov. John Carney (top right) Delaware Labor Secretary Cerron Cade and other partners announce a rapid training program to get Delaware’s workforce primed for the next wave of jobs. | PHOTO COURTESY CARNEY ADMINISTRATION

WILMINGTON – In hopes to better prepare Delaware’s workforce for the post-pandemic job market, the state has launched a rapid training program geared to get people ready for a new career path or to sharpen their skills.

Forward Delaware brings together state, education and business leaders to develop a certification program that can be completed within 20 weeks. This initiative focuses on Delaware’s top five growth industries: IT, health care, transportation, logistics and construction.

“We know that our ability to rebound and get Delaware working again will partly rely on our ability to provide training for individuals that need it and meet those jobs in high demand,” Gov. John Carney said in an Oct. 7 press conference announcing the program.

Forward Delaware comes three months after Carney signed an executive order to spend $10 million of federal CARES Act funds to jumpstart retraining programs. The executive order directed the Delaware Department of Labor to work with the Delaware Workforce Development Board to establish approved training and certification programs for unemployed and underemployed Delawareans.

The state lost 74,700 jobs at the height of the pandemic in April, but about 36,000 jobs were added back between May and August. Delaware Labor Secretary Cerron Cade said the state needs to account for the thousands of Delawareans looking for the next step in their careers in an environment that is shifting with each passing day.

“As we all know, some jobs are not going to be there when these individuals come back into the workforce and the economy is going to look totally different than it did when they left,” Cade said. “These programs are meant for individuals who are coming into a new industry, but also opportunities for workers to expand on the new skills they have learned.”

To support Forward Delaware, Delaware Technical Community College was provided $2.4 million from Carney’s executive order. DelTech President Mark Brainard said the community college will offer 11 short-term training programs in the health care sector, including for certified nursing assistants, care technicians, dental assistants, pharmacy technicians and more.

“We will be offering training to over 375 students through all of those different health care programs and those certification programs that will connect to Delaware jobs,” Brainard said.

In addition, DelTech will partner up with vocational schools to offer construction and trade programs as well as logistics and transportation training. Other partnering businesses and organizations include the University of Delaware; The Food Bank of Delaware; Code Differently; Zip Code Wilmington; Tech Elevator; Wilmington University and The Precisionists.

Forward Delaware programs will start on a rolling cycle, and some begin as early as this month while others will start in November and December. All programs are expected to be complete by the end of the first quarter of 2021.

Gary Stockbridge, chairman of the Delaware Workforce Development Board (DWDB), said that Forward Delaware was a beginning, not the end for the state’s labor force. His office and other partners will be developing a longer-term strategy over the course of the next one to two years.

We recognize that this is going to be a little bit of a haul to really get Delaware back on its feet and back where we were before COVID,” Stockbridge said. “But we are excited about this process and we think it will get Delaware back to work. We can be in a position to be one of the best states to come back from COVID-19 because we have all players around the table.”

For more information in applying to Forward Delaware’s training programs or to be connected to employees using the programs, visit www.forwarddelaware.com.

By Katie Tabeling

[email protected]

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