On Monday, Governor John Carney signed Executive Order #43, establishing a task force which will create a protocol for workers who lost their jobs during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, and help them find--and, if needed, train for--new jobs.
The Rapid Workforce Training and Redeployment Initiative will use $10 million in CARES Act funding to start a program which will prepare those in need of employment for the kinds of jobs that might be more readily available with the complications of the pandemic and whatever its aftermath might eventually look like.
Carney said this kind of jobs training has always been a priority.
"Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we as a group and as a state identified workforce development and training as a high priority for our ability as a state to compete with other states in our region, and across the country," Carney said. "In fact, [we] believed strongly that our ability to create jobs, bring businesses to our state, depended on the quality of our workforce and so special emphasis was put on education and training and programs to enable people to reach their full potential."
Now, it's become even more timely and relevant to focus resources on an effort that will help puts Delaware's workers back to work.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world for all of us, and particularly for employers and workers," the governor said. "Thousands of Delawareans are out of work. Many businesses are operating at lower capacity, and the labor market has changed considerably. We believe strongly that the imperative for workforce training and redeployment is more important than ever."
Chairman of Delaware's Workforce Development Board Gary Stockbridge, who also serves as regional president of Delmarva Power, said everyone involved knows time is of the essence here, and people need to be gainfully employed to pay bills, put food on the table, and keep a roof over their head.
"We're extremely excited about this executive order. We recognize that there are a lot of Delawareans anxious to get back to work. But we also recognize they may not be going back to work at the same job they had before, and they may have a need of additional skills," Stockbridge said. "We understand the word rapid in the title means we have to get out there and do it quickly...We're excited to...at the end of the day, get Delawareans back to work--and hopefully in good paying jobs. Whether or not they're the same as they were before or not doesn't matter, if they're good paying jobs and have a future."
Those jobs will be focused in a number of fields Delaware will need to replenish or expand as the state rebuilds following the pandemic. Fields like healthcare, IT, and construction will be focal points, with skills like welding, HVAC, and advanced manufacturing being skills Dr. Mark Brainard, President of Delaware Technical Community College, said he will be ready to teach to get people back to work.
"We stand ready to work with you and your administration, as well as their partners, and very much look forward to helping connect Delawareans with jobs and careers in the months and years ahead," he said.
The initiative committee also included representation of the Department of Labor by Director of the Division of Employment Stacey Laing, and Michael Quaranta of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce.