The New Year is only a few weeks away and Wilmington City Councilman Darius Brown wants residents to make a resolution to improve their job skills.
Brown, along with city council president Theo Gregory and representatives from three local programs gathered today to encourage residents to enroll in job training programs.
Brown said unemployment in the city hovered at or above 10 percent this year and resources are available to help people get good paying jobs.
“For us as council members, as government, we can’t necessarily create jobs but we can leverage the resources to help our residents, so we want to do that by preparing a ladder of opportunity and seeing our residents develop a career path for themselves,” said Brown.
The Delaware Skills Center in Wilmington offers nine different free training programs. Eric Wells, supervisor of the center said they have spots open and often have to advertise in order to fill seats.
“There is no charge, no tuition to come to the skills center,” he said.
Recently, the center graduated 70 individuals and Wells said all of them were able to land jobs.
“If you’re underemployed or unemployed, we can get you trained, get you a credential and get you to work,” he said.
Programs include construction work certification for HVAC, carpentry, electrical and welding. They also have programs for licensed practical nursing and programs to become a certified nursing assistant, medical assistant and computer support technician, all for free.
Some programs can be completed as quickly as a few months, while others may take up to one year. Salaries vary by career field and skill level, but they all pay above minimum wage.
“In welding it could be as high as $31 an hour depending on your skill set,” Wells said.
Not only is the Challenge Program in Wilmington free, but Executive Director Andrew McKnight said those who participate in the construction-based training program earn money.
“It’s a paid work experience,” said McKnight. “There are GED classes and a lot of certifications along with your training.”
Participants ages 18-21 learn construction skills in a work-based setting.
“People come in with the idea that you need a lot of school and a lot of credentials to get started, but really what you need is the willingness to work and the ability to get up every morning and show up to the job site on time,” said McKnight.
The training facility is located at the Kalmar Nyckel Shipyard on Wilmington’s Eastside and McKnight said anyone interested can stop in during business hours for more information.
While a common misconception is that Delaware Technical Community College is only for those who want to pursue a degree, Paul Morris from Del Tech’s Corporate and Community Programs Department said they also offer certifications that can be completed in a few months.
“There are people who think, ‘It’s going to take two years, or it’s going to take three years or I can’t afford it,’” explained Morris. “There are different funding opportunities available to them. Some of these programs, you can be fully credentialed in three to four months and making $10 to14 an hour. I don’t think a lot of people think that’s obtainable.”
He said many Del Tech programs are “stackable,” which means individuals can easily add on to their skillset.
“You get the entry level credential to get in and then add other courses so you can be promoted or move forward in another career field,” said Morris.