Delaware’s efforts to make sure students are ready for many of the jobs of tomorrow got a $3.2 million boost from Bloomberg Philanthropies.
The money will support the Delaware Pathway’s program, the state’s effort to provide career training to make sure students are able to find good jobs, even without a college education. America Achieves CEO Jon Schnur announced the grant Friday at the annual Delaware Pathways conference at the Chase Center in Wilmington. The grant money will be spread out over three years.
“We are in the midst of the fastest changing economy … in the history of the planet,” Schnur said. “The strength of our democracy depends on our adaptation.”
Delaware can be a leader in expanding its Pathways program to a broader group of students, Schnur said. The grant money aims to connect 20,000 students with careers in manufacturing, finance, and information technology.
Gov. John Carney said making those connections for Delaware students is his most important job as the state’s chief executive. “It’s to make sure each and every one of those children has an opportunity to be successful in the world. Every single one,” Carney said to a crowd of several hundred.
“It’s so critically important that we make those connections, that we make it possible for the education system to work for every child and our economy to work for every child and every family in our state. That’s really, really hard work, especially today given the transformation that’s happening in our state.”
Part of that transformation includes the shift in Delaware over the past decade that’s seen major manufacturers such as automakers Chrysler and General Motors leave and other corporate behemoths such as DuPont reduce their workforce.
As technology advances, the jobs of the future are also being transformed. “Children that are entering kindergarten and first grade today, when they graduate from high school and college that many years hence, more than half of the jobs don’t exist today,” Carney said.
The state’s first pathway program started with 27 students at William Penn High School working in conjunction with Delaware Technical Community College in advanced manufacturing four years ago.
Since then, the pathways program has grown to more than 9,000 students. “These pathways have expanded because all of the various partners work together so well to benefit our students and put Delaware on the cutting edge of work-based learning,” Del. Tech President Mark Brainard said. “We utilize our partnerships with business to connect students to the world of work and higher education.”
The pathways programs help students who choose not to pursue a four-year college degree, Carney said. “We have a real disconnect between individuals in the work force and the skills that they have or don’t have, and businesses and the skills that they need. And there’s not a connection there. There’s not a match.”
In addition to expanding the pathways program to 20,000 students, the grant money will also expand the Office of Work Based Learning at Del. Tech. School officials hope to support 2,500 high school students and 5,000 postsecondary students in work-based learning experiences in specific fields.
Bloomberg Philanthropies has made similar investments in recent years in Colorado and New Orleans. Bloomberg Philanthropies makes up all of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s charitable activities. Last year, the foundation distributed $702 million.