Delaware’s blue collar task force releases report

(file/NewsWorks)

(file/NewsWorks)

A Delaware legislative group calling itself the “Blue Collar Task Force” has released a report that details ways the state can stimulate job growth and tackle needed construction projects.

The report suggests putting Delaware’s construction industry back to work by freeing up money for state capital improvement projects.

Many building and maintenance projects have been put off over the past few years because of tight budgets.

Sen. Robert Marshall, D-Wilmington West and Rep. Michael Mulrooney, D-Pennwood, co-chair the task force and helped draft the legislation. The legislators said these types of jobs create a strong middle class that can put the state “back on its feet.”

“Hard-working Delawareans who want to help take care of their families and improve our state have been sidelined in recent years by changes in our national and global economies,” said Marshall. “We hope this plan is used as a blueprint to help get our blue collar workforce back on the job.”

Other recommendations in the report include studying the possibility of creating a public-private partnership to extend a natural gas pipeline into Kent and Sussex counties, looking for ways to expand operations and secure new clients for the Port of Wilmington and developing a one-stop, online shop for business permitting and licensing as well as studying and incorporating best practices for permitting and licensing from other states.

The report also calls for more training and training support for blue collar jobs.

“College is great and we know that college grads do well over the long haul,” Mulrooney said. “But college isn’t for everyone and we need to encourage students who might not want to go to a four-year school to explore training that will land them a good job and work with our employers to make sure our training programs meet their needs since, even in blue collar jobs, there’s a need for a broader skill set than was needed even a few short years ago.”

The report comes as the state faces gloomy FY2015 budget projections. Gov. Jack Markell will outline the state’s goals for the New Year in his annual State of the State address later this week. The governor has said education and putting people back to work are among his top priorities.

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