Declaring the two most important responsibilities of state government to be protecting the health and welfare of citizens and strengthening the economy, Gov. John Carney signed Executive Order No. 42 on Monday, Aug. 3, establishing a Rapid Workforce Training and Redeployment Initiative for Delaware workers who were displaced during the coronavirus crisis.
“We need to do both,” Carney said, as he inked the order during a livestreamed event.
He stressed the importance of enabling Delaware residents in the workforce by providing them with the opportunity to be trained, retrained or certified “so they can go back to work, maybe in a different field.”
The state is placing emphasis on training to enable workers to reach their full potential, Carney said.
A representative from the governor’s office said the full amount allocated for training would be released later.
The coronavirus has caused thousands to be out of work, and many businesses are operating at a lower capacity.
“We believe workforce training is more important than ever. I’m really confident as we continue to flatten the curve and the spread of the coronavirus, more people will go back to work. Demand for those workers will increase, so it’s really critical, as we try to improve the health of our community and strengthen our economy all at the same time,” Carney said.
With him at the signing event were Gary Stockbridge, chairman of the Delaware’s Workforce Investment Board; Mark Brainard, president of Delaware Technical Community College; Gary Stockbridge, chairman of the Delaware’s Workforce Investment Board; and Stacey Laing, director of the Division of Employment, Delaware Department of Labor.
Stockbridge said the Workforce Investment Board is excited about the order. Many employees won’t be returning to their original jobs, so it’s necessary and the word “rapid” in the title means it will be accomplished quickly, he said.
“The idea is to really understand where the high occupational demand of the future is,” he said.
Brainard thanked Carney for including Delaware Tech and praised effective partnerships. Significant investments have been made to train students. The school has the capacity and is ready to expand programs such as welding, manufacturing and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, he said.
“We stand ready to work with you and your administration as well as our partners with jobs and careers in the months and years ahead,” he said.
Carney said those who specialize in the fields mentioned were in high demand before the coronavirus outbreak and continue to be needed.
“We have been able to maintain a robust construction industry over the past five months. They were never shut down,” the governor said.
Quaranta said a ready workforce is mandatory and that owners of companies who establish themselves in Delaware look for a workforce with skills necessary for the present and well into the future. Jobs are lost when a company’s functions go to automated status, so it’s important to train and move employees from where they are to where they could be in the future, he said.
Technology is important in every business, from the education sector to manufacturing to hospital functions, “so we need more people with tech skills,” Quaranta said.
“We need more people in the trades. We’ve spent a whole generation enforcing, ‘Go to college. Go to college’ and we’ve kind of depleted our ranks in the trades.
“Hopefully this will bring the numbers back up,” he said.