Building and maintaining Delaware’s roads is a job that requires an ever-changing set of skills, says the First State’s top transportation official.
And with one-third of the Delaware Department of Transportation’s 2,700 workers eligible for retirement in the next five years, it will also require many new employees.
That’s why DelDOT announced Friday in Dover that it has formed a partnership with Delaware State University to create the Transportation Education Development Program.
The program, believed to be the only one of its kind in the nation, will establish education and training courses at DSU to create a pipeline for possible careers in surface transportation.
Gov. Jack Markell was at DSU to sign the agreement.
“The partnership benefits students and the state by preparing future transportation workers, whether they become engineers, appraisers, surveyors or land-planning specialists,” he said. “It’s also in our interest and the interest of the students to make sure they enter the workforce educated, trained and prepared to succeed.”
Markell said nationwide 50 percent of all state transportation agency workers are eligible to retire in the next 10 years.
“So the ongoing need for talent is very significant,” he said. “That means there should be good job opportunities right here in our students’ back yard.”
DelDOT Secretary Carolann Wicks said the partnership doesn’t guarantee jobs for DSU students, but it will give them a competitive advantage.
“It will reinforce their skill set,” she said. “And then when folks can have direct experience that they put on their resume whether it’s from mentoring or internships it continues to reinforce your marketability.”
No word yet on what specific courses and programs will be added at DSU or when they would begin. The University and DelDOT are putting a curriculum together.
DSU President Harry L. Williams says it builds a bridge between the students and career opportunities.
“When you have that opportunity to get that internship, that’s going to lead to another opportunity in terms of a job. That’s what it’s all about, building these great networks.”