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It’s been speedy growth for Delaware’s Pathways to Prosperity job training program for high school students, from seeing about 30 students in its introductory class in 2014 to now serving about 5,800 across 38 high schools across the state.
Now, the program is set to grow even more, thanks to the recent announcement of the program receiving a total of $450,000 in funding. According to Paul Morris, assistant vice president of workforce development at Delaware Tech, the growth is coinciding with the state’s re-emerging manufacturing industry.
“Delaware manufacturers have said countless times over the past five years that a large percent of their workforce could retire in the next five to 10 years,” Morris wrote in an email.
“With that being said, they had and have a need for a continuous pipeline of trained and educated entry level workers. All of these jobs are considered ‘middle skill’ and offer graduating high school students an opportunity to gain employment within a good paying field and gives them the opportunity to further their education within manufacturing and/or engineering.”
Delaware Tech, which was recently awarded a $3.5 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Labor for IT and manufacturing training, has been part of the Pathways to Prosperity program since the beginning, offering 630 hours of instruction to students during their junior and senior years. Participating students also get 200 hours of summer work experience, thanks to partnerships with the Delaware Manufacturing Association and local employers.
It’s a lot of work for these students on top of their high school lives, but it’s something Justina Sapna, vice president of academic affairs at Delaware Tech, says is necessary with today’s manufacturing industry, which requires more skilled workers with an increased level of tech know-how.
“I think the strength that we bring to [students] in solidifying their decision is that we work with the [manufacturing] industry when we’re creating our curriculum, along with our expert faculty who’ve been in the industry,” Sapna said. “This allows us to create a curriculum that’s relevant, efficient and gives the students what they need to be prepared for the workforce or for college.”