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The DTCC Way: Delaware’s College for Everyone

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Delaware Technical Community College (DTCC)’s goal is to serve the educational needs of as many Delawareans as possible — whether they’re looking for four-year degrees, two-year degrees or a certificate that covers a specific skill.

“The college has two sides to it,” says Paul Morris, associate vice president for workforce development and community education. “One is the college side, where students work on a degree and can either graduate or transfer. The other is workforce development for individuals who have personalized goals, [with] programs that last between six weeks and six months.”

He also points to an expansion of the SEED (Student Excellence Equals Degree) scholarship program, which was launched in 2005. This free-tuition program was expanded in 2021 to include Delawareans of all ages who would like to pursue an academic degree or a workforce training certificate. “As long as they are over 25, they can take up to 10 semesters free,” Morris says.

Many First State residents take advantage of what the state’s technical college has to offer: DTCC had 14,579 students enrolled in the 2022-23 academic year. Here’s a closer look at some of DTCC’s key decisions and programs.

Word-Based Learning

The Office of Work-Based Learning (OWBL) was created in 2017 to serve as the intermediary between Delaware schools and employers participating in work-based learning through the Delaware Pathways program, explains Bryan Horsey, OWBL’s director. His office works statewide to recruit and match employers with students.“

As the next phase of the Pathways program, we try to make young students more ready for taking their next steps to a job,” he says. “Pathways starts with students in the eighth grade and builds from there. They can graduate with industry credentials earned in high school.”

In some ways, Horsey says, Pathways is a sort of apprenticeship-related program. “I see it as a three-layer process. First, high school students attain an awareness to what is available and what may interest them. Then they begin an exploration — dipping their toes into a career field such as construction. Finally, there is an immersion, which is closely associated with being an intern. It is important that the employers involved understand this process, that we are bringing students who are not yet looking for a job to these employers.”

Horsey explains that there has been a change in employers’ attitudes since the COVID pandemic. “Before, we would explain the process, and they would say ‘We’ll get back to you,’” he says. “Now, it’s more like‘ Sign me up.’”

Currently, he says, there are more than 26,000 students throughout the state enrolled in Pathways. “The employers are ready,” Horsey says. “Now we are working to get the message to students through the school coordinators and student education kiosks in schools.”

Information Technology and Networking (ITN)

DTCC offers students an associate degree in information technology and networking with an option of concentrating in one of the specialized options or becoming a generalist. In the 2022-23 academic year, 529 students were enrolled in the ITN program.

“They all take the same courses the first year,” says Michelle Garey, ITN instructional director. Then students begin with their elective programs, which can lead to entry-level positions in the IT industry or serve as a stepping stone to getting a degree at a four-year institution. “Those who choose to concentrate in a specialty have the options of information security, networking or programming. At this point, students may complete the program on campus or online.”

DTCC has industry advisory committees who give input, she says, explaining that the program is more intern-directed than apprenticeship-directed, “although we’re looking at that.” She also says there has been added instruction in recent years at providing the “soft” job skills in addition to basic training and education. This includes such topics as how to interview for a job and how to get along with colleagues in the workplace.

“There is also a new program called One+ One,” Garey says, “funded by JPMorgan in collaboration with Howard High School of Technology. We start with students in the 10th grade and provide them one or two years of ITN programming.”

Under the program, up to 25 Howard students can use their final three years of school to earn 30 college credits toward an ITN degree at DTCC. At that point, they only have one year of course work before them to attain an associate degree — a huge step ahead academically and professionally.

“The students self-select,” Garey says, “and we will accept them as an open-admissions college and provide them with wrap-around support.

Workforce Development and Community Education

While many of DTCC’s offerings are degree programs such as traditional four-year colleges offer, as well as vo-tech programs for students entering the workforce, Morris points out that many DTCC programs are for people already in their careers who may seek help with career advancement or for personal enrichment, such as learning a new language.

“The most popular career advancement areas are in healthcare and in technical training,” he says. “In healthcare, we may be able to ‘stack’ training in areas such as certified nursing assistant (CNA) certification, phlebotomy and patient care. Before the pandemic, these were paying $12 to $14 an hour, and now they are up to $20 an hour. The need for hemodialysis training has also increased dramatically, and another field is sleep technicians.”

These classes are taught through lectures, student laboratories and through hands-on clinical experience and also include sessions on so-called soft skills such as employment readiness. Sometimes internships are involved. “We also are creating training centers that we expect to be centers of excellence,” Morris says.

In addition to these specialized work-based program areas, DTCC continues to grow to serve the state’s need. This past academic year, the college launched a new degree program that will help the next generation of Delawareans — a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education.”

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