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Welcome to STUFF Made and Built in Delaware

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Joseph Jones, Ed.D.
New Castle County Vo-Tech School District

As I write a welcome message for this informative and relevant resource focused on helping parents guide their children through the maze of future career choices, I don’t even know if our schools will have reopened. There is little about our lives that the COVID-19 pandemic has not affected. 

The events of the past seven months have upended our definition of “normal.” COVID-19 not only is ravaging our health, it has created dire consequences for our economy, our households, and our community’s most vulnerable. It has forced conversations about essential and non-essential workers and has even called into question decisions of whether or not to pursue post-secondary degrees. It has perhaps caused many to examine whether they think higher education, with its potentially crushing student-loan debt, is still the best path to a meaningful career.

Students who graduate high school with career and technical skills are employable for life. Our goal is to develop a well-educated and skilled workforce that is flexible, innovative, competitive. While there continues to be an emphasis on the four-year degree, half of high school graduates who go to four-year public universities have not earned degrees within six years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. And for many students, the college choice is merely a fallback. They go to college without a plan, without a career in mind. 

It is important for parents to be aware of and open to other options for their children. When you consider the wages that jobs in industries such as health care, construction, manufacturing and financial services pay, coupled with the opportunity for advancement, parents ought to investigate. According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, some 30 million jobs in the United States that pay an average of $55,000 per year don’t require bachelor’s degrees.

Here’s something I wager most people don’t know: Those who have career and technical educations are more likely to be employed than their counterparts with academic credentials, according to the U.S. Department of Education, and they are more likely to be working in their fields of study. This does not suggest that students with career and technical backgrounds do not continue their education after high school — many earn industry certifications and credits towards associate degrees before graduating, some enter apprenticeships and trade schools, and others continue at college full or part time to advance their skills.

The point is that the choice between college and skilled training does not have to be an either-or decision, but can be a blend of both. 

Consider exploring the options presented in this publication, talk with your child about his/her interests, and then consider encouraging your child to enter a Delaware Career Pathway or specialized Career Program of Study in a traditional or vo-tech high school. Talk with school counselors and visit programs. See what possibilities exist. 

In the following pages, you will read about the successes some students and young adults have achieved by pursuing such options. Delaware employers also share their workforce needs and opportunities for growth. Delaware schools are fast becoming recognized for their accelerated and plentiful career and technical options for students. Don’t limit your choices with stereotypical thinking. Delaware is a great place to live, work and learn. Help your child take full advantage of all that we have to offer.

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