A group launched Monday seeking to foster workforce development in the First State’s largest city.
The Wilmington Leaders Alliance (WLA) plans to help connect local workforce development programs to each other - and to employers.
The Longwood Foundation’s President There DuPont is WLA's vice chair. He says the WLA is not creating another workforce development program – but instead supporting ones already doing that work in Wilmington, like four organizations featured Monday.
The organizations included Zip Code Wilmington, Year Up, Generation and Tech Impact.
“Our intention is to play a coordinating role with those four organizations on a regular basis," DuPont said. "Probably monthly at this point we’ll pull the four organizations together, probably pull a couple of employers in the room – here’s what’s working, here’s what’s not.”
Generation has provided Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Customer Service workforce training in Wilmington since 2015.
Victor Reece is program coordinator for Generation's CNA program, and says 80 CNAs have graduated from their free Wilmington program so far.
"We have a 100% guaranteed job placement after graduation from our CNA program," Reece said. "It's totally free: we pay for books, scrubs, everything you need we pay for."
Wilmington Hospital Executive Director Edmondo Robinson says Christiana Care regularly hires new staff – including nursing assistants.
“There’s some entry level roles, there’s some higher level roles – we really run the gamut of what we’re looking for," Robinson said. "Anything from nursing, even physicians but also technical positions and technical skills we’re interested in.”
But the supply of those trained locally to fill the roles isn’t meeting the demand. Robinson notes the hospital is often forced to look beyond local workforce development programs to recruit individuals.
And that’s exactly the trend the Wilmington Leaders Alliance hopes to change.
Paul Morris – who heads up workforce development for Del Tech - recognizes that staying connected to local employers and their needs is critical.
“Right now we’re seeing a pretty large demand in the construction industry, we’re seeing a large demand in manufacturing and healthcare – but it really depends on where the jobs are," Morris said. "And where the jobs are today may not be where the jobs are tomorrow."