Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Apprenticeships can be a path to sustainable careers in Delaware

U.S. Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester paid a recent visit to the 11 current students of Claymont Community Center's pre-apprenticeship program.

US Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester speaks to pre-apprentices in June 2021.

(Courtesy photo)

Delaware is seeing a lot of development lately, from new apartments in downtown Wilmington to growing manufacturing complexes in Newark and south. These new places will create new jobs in the state when they’re built — and the projects themselves create middle class jobs in the construction sector.

Wilmington City Councilwoman At-Large Rysheema Dixon, as executive director of Delaware Pathways to Apprenticeship (DE P2A), is working to end intergenerational poverty in Delaware through the program by providing low-income access to opportunities for career-building apprenticeships in the building trades, including a women-in-construction track. Students include, but are not limited to, the formerly incarcerated, people on public assistance, and people who live in public housing.

Supporting the paid on-the-job training that apprenticeships offer has been part of President Joe Biden’s platform even before he laid out the Biden Plan for Education Beyond High School as part of his election campaign. The plan includes a $50 billion investment in workforce training programs and apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships can be especially valuable for low-income members of the workforce who may not have a degree or face other barriers. In 2017, Biden led the event “Choosing a Future of Quality Jobs” at the University of Delaware, where a panel of workforce development experts predicted that hiring based on skills rather than education level was the future, and that training underemployed locals would be a key to both growth and economic equity. DE P2A, which is part of is part of the nonprofit L.E.E.P (Labor, Economic, Education, Empowerment), covers all of these bases.

The pre-apprenticeship course prepares students for full apprenticeships, with an information session followed by a six-week program that helps applicants prepare for everything from interviews to aptitude exams.


DE P2A’s pre-apprenticeship has graduated 65 participants since its inception in January 2019. Its eighth class, which received funding through the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund by the Delaware Department of Labor and the Delaware Workforce Development Board, has 11 participants at Claymont Community Center.

U.S. Congressperson Lisa Blunt Rochester, a former Delaware secretary of labor, visited the class this week to talk to them about the importance of trades and building a strong workforce.

U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester speaks to the students

U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester speaks to the students. (Courtesy photo)

“Pathways to Apprenticeship isn’t just a program, it’s about their participants’ futures,” Blunt Rochester said. “The reality is that if you complete an apprenticeship, you are prepared to join the workforce. Ninety-four percent of those who complete apprenticeships will end it with a job, but they make up less than 1% of the American workforce. I was pleased to visit Delaware Pathways to Apprenticeship today and to hear directly from the participants in the program. I commend Wilmington City Councilwoman Rysheema Dixon for the incredible work Pathways to Apprenticeship is doing in Delaware.”

Dixon commended Blunt Rochester as well.

“She understands the importance of our program and the life changing effects of our program,” Dixon said. “We are proud of the work she is doing on the federal level to support programs like ours and we look forward to our continuous work together.”

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