The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

Delaware Builds a New and Successful State Economy Through Public Education

on December 3, 2017

Trying to get back into the groove this week I did a lot of reading, but much of it was the same old bad news about failing schools and stagnant test scores. Fortunately, yesterday I came across a piece of good news in “The News Journal” written by Jessica Bies. So I will try to explain it below.

Over the past several years our east coast businesses have been moving to other states or closing altogether. In 2009, for instance, the last two automobile plants in the Northeast, a Chrysler plant in Newark and a General Motors plant near Wilmington Delaware, shut down, wiping out thousands of jobs and showing no intent to return. In addition, DuPont merged with Dow Chemical, resulting in the loss of nearly 1,700 jobs.

 All that is left in the state of Delaware at present is a slew of “middle-skill” jobs that do not require workers with college degrees. Fortunately sixty percent of those jobs are projected to be seeking trained workers.

 In 2014 a program titled “Delaware Pathways” was created in order to train young people for the existing jobs. At that time only 27 students enrolled in the program, but this year enrollment is projected to be 9,000. Today Delaware is considered a national leader in career and technical education, and it certainly looks like public education, young people, and businesses are ready to  make “Pathways” a permanent part of the state’s operations.

The Pathways plan to enlist and train high school students for jobs covers a wide range of industries, including finance, healthcare, hospitality management, computer science, manufacturing, biomedical science and engineering.

The program begins by preparing high school students with instruction and training in selected fields and later provides the opportunity for them to earn industry-recognized credentials, some college credits, and high school internships. For example, students interested in becoming teachers can get certified as preschool teachers or instructional aides upon high school graduation, giving them the chance to work in their field while earning more credits. Ultimately, they will have enough credits to be certified as elementary or high school teachers.

Delaware is heavily invested in talent development, and the state education department recently announced more than $400,000 in public grants to support new Pathway programs that will begin in the fall. While the program’s various partners have been successful in securing federal funding and millions of dollars in private grants, they fear that without a steady stream of state funding, the program could stagnate

According to Secretary of Education Susan Bunting “ Delaware will hire or replace 30 percent of its workforce in the next eight years. Such shifts require employers and schools to take a more active role in shaping Delaware’s talent pipeline.” It certainly looks like several new industries will be successful and provide high quality, well-paying jobs for the state’s population.

In reading this article I was very much heartened by the Pathways program plans, funding, and it’s success so far. In my opinion it is unquestionable that industry in the United States is changing drastically and will not return to its past. Almost every state should be following the lead of Delaware.

My only complaint about the article is that the training programs were not described. I’d like to know if they are accessible in all high schools, what students must do in order to be accepted into a program, and how much time or how many courses are required for them to be  fully certified for a position. Perhaps that information is available elsewhere, and I just didn’t stumble upon it. I will keep looking.

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