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5 industries targeted in new jobs training program

Five industries are targeted in a $10 million plan to train Delawareans who are unemployed or underemployed from the pandemic, state officials announced Wednesday.

Forward Delaware will focus on computers and information technology; hospitality and food services; transportation and logistics; health care; and construction and trades. “We never closed construction down here,” Gov. John Carney said.

Delaware lost “north of 80,000 jobs” after the pandemic hit, he said, and it has since regained about half of them. Carney on Aug. 3 issued an executive order to develop the Rapid Workforce Training and Redeployment Initiative to help get Delawareans back to work.

The initiative is part of program called Today’s Reinvestment Around Industry Needs, and speakers in Wednesday’s briefing repeatedly referred to “high-demand” jobs.

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The order also called for approving organizations to do the training. Most will occur at Delaware Technical Community College, Carney said.

Mark Brainard, president of Delaware Tech, said the college has received a $2.4 million grant for 11 programs in health care. The classes will run on a rolling cycle, he said, starting as early as this month and ending as late as spring. Marketing began Tuesday for these classes.

The order was originally set to expire on Dec. 31 (unless extended), but Gary Stockbridge, the Delmarva Power regional president and chairman of the Delaware Workforce Development Board, said the committee also wanted to look at long-term jobs needs for the state.

The initiative is covered by the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund. Payments will be on a first-come, first-served basis, the order said. Applicants must meet minimum educational levels for each program.

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Forward Delaware’s home page says “This is the place where jobseekers find training to enhance or gain skills; and employers connect with a qualified workforce.” That’s territory also covered on Delaware Works, a Department of Labor jobs site.

Cerron Cade, secretary of labor, said the state needs to “invest in our workers. As we know, some jobs will not be there when they come back into the workforce.”