Tag: Workforce

DDOE education programs for Delaware workforce

DDOE Program Successes Support Statewide Economic Development

Delaware Department of Education Program Successes Support Statewide Economic Development

DE Department of Education Program

January 11, 2022 –

It’s been well documented that employers are struggling to find qualified workers or help existing employees get better jobs. That’s why states and municipalities focusing on the intersection of education and workforce development are seeing economic development success.

Forward-looking states see an aging workforce in key industries and students with skills that could translate to the changing needs of the workforce. They focus many of their efforts on middle and high schools and on retraining the existing workforce.

As Delaware eyes one of the biggest capital budgets the state has ever seen, Luke Rhine, director for career and technical education and STEM initiatives with the Delaware Department of Education, predicts that with a federal infrastructure bill in place, “connectivity, cybersecurity, those types of things are all going to be underlying infrastructure issues, which means we’ll see a lot of IT jobs directly connected to the expansion of that infrastructure.”

Rhine’s area is already supporting the change in the environment with:

  • College and career-ready programming in middle grades. “Our middle grades focus is really around student identity development, helping young people establish confidence and develop an identity within their schools, their communities and their future workplaces,” he says.
  • High school, which is centered around the state’s Delaware Pathways strategy. “It’s helping students determine what kind of post-secondary path is right for them – the job that they want to hold and the career that they want to pursue or whether they want to move into a two-year degree or a four-year degree or a credential program.”
  • Post-secondary education. This includes support of the state’s Registered Apprenticeship system and an increased focus around stackable credentials that count toward the pursuit of higher-level credentials and degree models.

“All of our initiatives are essentially employer-driven, which gives them substantial influence over education and training models,” Rhine says. “And then we work with post-secondary institutions and K-12 institutions to think differently around how we structure relationships. And that helps us recruit young people who see themselves in Delaware and as part of a community.”

Adult Career Pathway Strategy Fuels Delaware’s Work in Higher Education


Rhine says the state’s work in the higher education space is really an adult career pathway strategy that helps adults move as quickly as possible through higher education to pursue gainful employment.

For the credential model, the state is primarily working with four institutions, including the three vocational-technical (vo-tech) schools – Polytech, Sussex Tech and New Castle County – which each have an adult education division that runs the state’s Registered Apprenticeship program and short- and long-term credential programs.

“We want to ensure that a person who acquires a licensed practical nurse (LPN) credential is able to move immediately into employment and then that LPN credential allows them to navigate higher levels of education,” Rhine says. “The LPN’s credential also carries credit so a student can, with an LPN certificate, take less time to complete their associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing.”

Accomplishments in Workforce Development

During his seven years in his current role, Rhine says he’s most proud of three accomplishments:

  1. Broadening the definition of career and technical education (CTE). “People often think about CTE as areas like carpentry or cosmetology,” he says. “We are still focused on skilled trades and human services but have also diversified the types of industries and occupations that we support from a college and career-ready standpoint. It’s amazing what young people are doing in terms of their ability to code or automate or even use a drone to collect data for agriculture or construction. It’s very interesting how young people are translating their skills into data science. They’re asking themselves what they want to become and what steps they need to take to get there.”
  2. Student outcomes. “There are two outcomes that I’m most proud of,” Rhine says. “The first is the percentage of students who demonstrate college- and career-readiness, who are completing advanced coursework while still in high school. That can be a student who is part of a youth apprenticeship program, they’re taking college courses while still in high school, or completing AP, they’re in a paid work experience. Prior to last year, that number had increased to 58% from 38% over three years. The other thing that I’m really proud of is placement. More than 75% of our students are seamlessly entering higher education, with an increasing percentage who choose to simultaneously work, essentially working while upskilling.”
  3. Expansion of instructional programs. Rhine says more than 70% of youth in grades nine through 12 are enrolled in any given year in a career pathway, with two-thirds of graduating classes completing the program. “These are young people who have college credit, who have credentials, who have work experiences in the industry that they want to move into,” Rhine says. “These experiences help to shape who they are and accelerate their trajectory and network. And it’s a great way in which we can help to meet the future needs of Delaware employers at scale and across the state.”

But Rhine believes something else also has spurred greater interest in the state’s post-secondary programs.

“The last 18 months have caused adults to reflect on whether they’re on the right trajectory, if they have the relationships they want and if they have the relationship with their employer that they want,” he says.

Rhine’s team, working in partnership with the state’s technical school systems, are ready to do a full rollout of the youth apprenticeship program, with high school seniors sponsored by an employer and paid a living wage – the average is $17-plus an hour, with wage increases as they progress through the training program – while they’re simultaneously moving toward high-school graduation.

“We’re working with our three Technical School Districts as well as Delaware Technical Community College in partnership with the Associated Builders and Contractors, Delaware Contractors Association, the Delaware Restaurant Association and Tech Impact,” Rhine says. “We want employer-facing groups to recruit employers, and we want educational institutions to prepare more young people to this level of standard and then meet in the middle. So lots of young people, lots of employers, lots of talent. Marry that, away we go.”

Rhine also believes more people will be choosier about the jobs they want.

“I think you’re going to see increases in experiential learning models in higher education, or residency-type models in higher education, because people want to know what’s on the other end of that training program,” he says. “If you want to be a doctor, you do a residency. If you want to be a nurse, there’s a clinical experience. We’re seeing this in education as well. We launched a residency model where we’re actually paying students who want to move into education as resident teachers to work under the wings of a teacher mentor for a much longer period of time than was traditionally associated with student teaching.”

Rhine notes that Delaware schools like DelTech and Wilmington University found that a number of students in their programs needed remedial education, which don’t provide class credit. He said the statistics show that students who move into remedial courses are less likely to complete a credential or degree within a cohort graduation rate. So DelTech, as an example, has completely revamped its remedial education policy to simultaneously enroll youth and adults in credit-bearing math and language classes with the remedial programs and providing support to help the student get the credit toward certification or a degree.

Rhine says in-state schools are also embracing the idea of credit for prior learning.

“If credentials are gateways, then degrees and credentials should align,” he says. “If an older Delawarean enrolls in college with 20 years of work experience, our schools are trying to figure out how that work experiences translates into clock hours or credit hours so they don’t need to sit through things they already know how to do. That enables them to move faster in an apprenticeship program or earn a degree, and the research is very clear: Institutions that have more robust credit for prior learning policy see people graduate faster. It’s common sense.”

Rhine said his area is supporting other state agencies like the Department of Labor, which received funding to look at the H1B1 visa policy and a companion grant to expand IT training programs and a separate grant to expand Registered Apprenticeships. Rhine’s team also received an apprenticeship expansion grant focused on youth. There is great coordination across agencies, he says.

Rhine’s team also has worked to revise Regulation 525, which governs the administration of Delaware’s career and technical education programs.

“Regulations are like guardrails on a road,” he says. “What we’re trying to do with Reg 525 is to align the progress we’ve made with state’s college and career readiness agenda and how we think about CTE programs more globally.”

Rhine says Delaware’s size enables it to adapt and react quickly – and also provide scale.

“Every employer wants access to talent, and every school system with post-secondary institution that we work with wants access to employers who want to integrate into their community,” Rhine says. “Every single one.”

This article was originally posted on the Live Love Delaware website at: https://www.livelovedelaware.com/ddoe-program-successes-support-statewide-economic-development/

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No State Builds Pathways from High School to Jobs as well as Delaware Does: Opinion

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No State Builds Pathways from High School to Jobs as well as Delaware Does: Opinion

7 NOVEMBER, 2019

How can it be that with the lowest unemployment rate in anyone’s memory, the U.S. still has 6.9 jobs seeking workers and 6.3 workers seeking jobs?

There is no single answer, but a big part of the problem is the skills gap – not enough workers with the right skills, especially to fill middle-skill jobs in such fields as health care, IT, and advanced manufacturing.

Many states are building pipeline programs to address this gap, programs that begin in high school, connect to post secondary institutions, and work with employers to ensure that students have the right skills to fill in-demand jobs that can get them launched on fulfilling careers.

No state does this as well as Delaware.

Over these past six years, Delaware has, from a standing start, created a statewide career pathways system that has become a model for the nation. Delaware has grown from 27 students enrolled in an advanced manufacturing program in 2014 to 16,000 students across the state currently enrolled in 25 career pathways in 12 high-growth, high-demand sectors of the state’s economy.

The state is on track to meet its goal of enrolling 20,000 students — half the high school population — in career pathways by 2020.

Delaware’s story is the lead chapter in a new book just published by Harvard Education Press, “Career Pathways in Action: Case Studies from the Field,” written by Nancy Hoffman and myself. This book, and the case study of Delaware Pathways, will be featured in a session at the upcoming annual Vision Coalition Conference Tuesday, Nov. 12 at the University of Delaware.

In a few short years, Delaware Pathways has transformed the education landscape. Career pathways match students’ interests with tailored instruction and relevant work-based learning experiences, and award industry-recognized credentials and college credits while students are still in high school.

These pathways provide on and off ramps for the full spectrum of options. A young person on a health care pathway could use it to decide: a) to become a certified nursing assistant so she can start earning some money while she weighs her options; b) to start working toward becoming a medical doctor; or c) that it isn’t the right field.

The goal is to give program participants enough early exposure to the world of work and careers to make informed decisions about what comes next after high school.

How has Delaware been able to build such a robust career pathways system in such a short time? The secret is partnership.

The collaboration among statewide entities like the departments of Education and Labor, Delaware Technical Community College, the United Way, Rodel and a network of private employers large and small led to the development of a compelling strategic plan specifying the roles and responsibilities of each partner.

This cross-agency structure is unusually strong, and a dedicated core team from the partner organizations has stuck together to implement that plan.

Delaware Pathways is not without its challenges, including the provision of meaningful work-based learning opportunities for all participants and the development of a long-range funding plan.

But with Gov. John Carney leading the effort to bring more employers to the table, the first challenge is being addressed, and given the broad-based political support for the program, I’m confident the funding challenge will be addressed as well.

Delaware, you are currently building what many believe is the most scalable and replicable career pathways model in the nation.

Keep pushing.

The leaders of the other 15 state and regional members of the Pathways Network are all pulling for you because what you build here could not only help your young people, but benefit their peers in states across the United States.

— Robert Schwartz is a professor emeritus of practice in educational policy and administration at Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-founder of the Pathways to Prosperity Network.

Kurt Foreman

PRESIDENT & CEO

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Delaware’s Manufacturing Sector is Supported by Unique and Growing Workforce Training Efforts

Delaware’s manufacturing sector is supported by unique and growing workforce training efforts

(Wilmington, Del.)  Manufacturing in America continues to be the largest economic multiplier of any industry sector, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. Delaware’s manufacturing and advanced manufacturing sector are supporting that growth.

Kurt Foreman, President and CEO of the Delaware Prosperity Partnership, the public-private partnership that manages economic development for the state of Delaware, says that approximately half the companies looking to expand in Delaware or relocate to Delaware fall into the manufacturing sector.

A strong workforce is needed to support this growth. In Delaware, a unique training program that starts in high school is ensuring there are eager and qualified professionals to support the sector. The Pathways to Prosperity program continues with training and degree options at regional colleges and universities, including Delaware Technical Community College and proceeds into adulthood with widely-available “up-skilling” programs for existing manufacturing workers to grow and advance in their fields.

Delaware’s Pathways programs are gaining in popularity among students and their parents. This year, there was 33% growth in the students expected to complete the advanced manufacturing pathway, offered through Delaware Tech. The growth is expected to continue.

Worth nearly $5 billion and accounting for more than 96% of the state’s global exports, Delaware’s manufactured goods industry is robust, creating deep supply chains and supporting the market entry and growth of new businesses. The manufacturing sector is one of the largest employers in the region, accounting for 5.6% of total employment in Delaware and 6.7% in the broader region.

Delaware’s manufacturing sector includes a robust advanced materials manufacturing sector with structural and fabricated metals, paper products, electrical equipment, aerospace products, printing, and furniture. The manufacturing and logistics sector intersects with Delaware’s science and technology sector, with firms like Agilent and Chemours producing chemicals and medical devices and with the food and agricultural sector with firms like Pepsi Bottling Ventures and Kraft Heinz manufacturing food and beverage products.

Delaware has a wealth of competitive advantages for manufacturing, advanced materials manufacturing and logistics companies. Delaware’s strategic location allows companies to reach more than 50 million people within 250 miles; and public and private investment is rapidly expanding existing infrastructure. Most notably, the Port of Wilmington—already a full-service, strategically located Mid-Atlantic seaport serving more than 200 million North American consumers—is set for $600 million in upgrades in coming years. Competitive tax rates make choosing Delaware highly attractive, especially when compared to other states in the region.

Additional Competitive Advantages

  • Close proximity to major airports, with international and domestic cargo capabilities
  • Major International port, four hours from the Atlantic Ocean
  • First Foreign Trade Zone to receive approval with an Alternative Site Framework
  • Freight rail services throughout the state
  • Well-connected roads, with I-95 in Northern Delaware, the most-travelled interstate in the U.S.

For more information about advanced manufacturing in Delaware, visit the Delaware Prosperity Partnership’s website.

About Delaware Prosperity Partnership
Created in 2017, Delaware Prosperity Partnership (DPP) is the nonprofit that leads the state of Delaware’s economic development efforts to attract, grow and retain businesses. DPP works with site selectors, commercial developers and business executives focused on where to locate or grow a business. The team helps with reviewing potential sites, cost-of-living analysis, quality-of-life information and funding opportunities, including available tax credits and incentives. For more information, visit www.choosedelaware.com.

Kurt Foreman

PRESIDENT & CEO

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