Delaware launches rapid training program to combat COVID-related unemployment

Delaware lost some 80,000 jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. A new rapid training program aims to help workers rejoin the labor force.

Delaware Gov. John Carney

Delaware lost some 80,000 jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. A new rapid training program aims to help workers rejoin the labor force. (Office of Gov. John Carney)

Through the first three years of Gov. John Carney’s administration, Delaware added 20,000 jobs to the state’s economy.

Then COVID hit.

The pandemic shutdown forced 80,000 Delawareans out of work. There has been some recovery, with about half of those workers back on the job, but the state’s unemployment rate remains high at just under 9% as of August, the most recent numbers available from the state Department of Labor. The number of unemployed Delawareans is 134% higher than this time last year.

“We got to get our economy reopened and one way to do that is focus on the high-demand jobs that are out there, the vacancies that currently exist, and our never-ending challenge to provide Delawareans with the skills they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” Carney said.

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Under an executive order issued by Carney, the state will use $10 million in federal funds from the CARES Act to create a rapid training program for residents looking for work. “We know that our ability to rebound and get Delaware working again will, in part, be due to our ability to provide training for individuals that need it to meet the high demand of jobs in certain sectors,” he said.

The Rapid Workforce Training and Redeployment Initiative will focus on five areas that have a high number of vacancies, including IT, food services, health care, transportation and logistics, and construction.

“We intend these programs to be very quick, initial certification for individuals who are coming into a new industry,” said Cerron Cade, secretary of the state labor department. “We’re also looking at what lies ahead and opportunities for these workers to expand on the new skills that they’ve learned.”

Training will be provided by various groups, including Delaware Technical Community College, the University of Delaware, and coding boot camps like Zip Code Wilmington. Del. Tech got $2.4 million in CARES Act money to launch its training in health care fields.

“We will offer approximately 11 different short-term training programs in the health care sector, everything from CNA [Certified Nursing Assistant] and patient care technician to things like dental assistant and pharmacy technician,” said Del. Tech President Mark Brainard. “These training programs will be offered on a rolling cycle, some will start this month, some in November and December.”

The training programs are designed to be a crash course that ends with a certificate for workers by the end of March 2021.

“The best way to rebound from this economic downturn as a result of COVID-19 is to invest in our workers,” Cade said. “Workers throughout the state of Delaware have been impacted by this through no fault of their own.”

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