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VIEWPOINT: Workers Wanted – How NCCVT is Answering the Call

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The state and the nation are in peculiar and arguably unknown territory. Available gainful jobs exceed the number of jobseekers, leaving many to wonder, where did all the workers go?  According to the Delaware Department of Labor’s Office of Occupational & Labor Market Information, jobs in construction, manufacturing, transportation, hospitality, and healthcare are projected to increase steadily over the next ten years. In a comparison from March 2022 to March 2023, construction jobs rose by approximately 1,000, manufacturing jobs by 1,200, and transportation/utilities jobs by 2,300.

New Castle County Vocational Technical School District Superintendent Joseph Jones discusses how the school district is addressing the gap between available jobs and jobseekers.

Joseph Jones

That trend is expected to continue. By 2024, there will be an estimated increase of 1,030 jobs in construction, 3,230 in transportation, manufacturing, and related support services, and 2,630 positions in the hospitality industry. Healthcare and social assistance jobs in Delaware are anticipated to increase by nearly 15,000 positions by 2030, with an estimated 1,122 openings per year for medical and nursing assistants. This need is also evident within education as schools are continually looking to fill teaching and staff vacancies. At the onset of the 2022 school year, most schools opened with unfilled positions.

Across the nation, there are approximately two job openings for every job seeker. Although many of these jobs do not require a four-year college degree, employers do expect the individuals filling the positions to possess digital and financial literacy as well as important soft skills such as professionalism, work ethic, problem solving, time management, communication, and collaboration.

The New Castle County Vocational Technical School District is helping to fill these gaps. On May 1, 2023, with the support of Senator Chris Coons, we held a Career Signing Day to celebrate the nearly 200 seniors from our four high schools who have accepted offers of employment. These scholars are among approximately 750 students who have been participating in NCCVT’s cooperative employment program this year, in which they spend approximately half of their time in school and half in a relevant work experience – the ultimate earn while you learn model. Their technical and soft skills have been so impressive that their employers have offered them continued employment after they graduate.

They are nursing and dental assistants, electricians, child care providers, HVAC and plumbing technicians, hair stylists, chefs, welding and sheet metal workers, graphic artists and technical drafters, masons, information technology specialists, and automotive technicians. Whether or not they choose to continue their education in an apprenticeship, college, or trade school, they will be contributing immediately to our state’s economic prosperity, mostly in small businesses in our state and region.

It’s been said many times that small businesses are the backbone of our state and country. Indeed, small businesses employ nearly half of the nation’s private sector workforce. Our cooperative employment program is such a success because of the partnerships we have with these businesses, and we are grateful for their support. They are a big part of the reason we are able to say with confidence that #NCCVTworks.

New Castle County Vo Tech is committed to preparing students for success in their futures. But we are equally committed to rigorous school-to-work and workforce development initiatives that meet the needs of our county, state, and region. Our four award-winning high schools – Delcastle, Hodgson, Howard, and St. Georges – consistently deliver, and it’s our pleasure to contribute to Delaware’s economic vitality.

Joseph Jones, Ed.D. is the superintendent at New Castle County Vocational Technical School District. 

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