A New Era for Career Pathways in Delaware

October 6th, 2021

Category: Partnerships, Postsecondary Success

Public and private investments will mean huge dividends for students

This week, Governor John Carney announced a $50 million public-private investment in workforce development, including a major boon for Delaware’s career pathways system—already considered among the best in the country.

Over the last several years, Delaware has grown its career pathways effort from 27 to 20,000 students and become recognized as a national leader. Back in 2015, Rodel worked with the Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee and then-Governor Jack Markell to seed this work with a $100,000 investment and in the last several years leveraged over $30 million of public and private sector investments to help it grow.

Rodel worked with our partners over the last year to craft a three-year plan for a new phase of career pathways. It is a bold, multi-faceted plan that will expand the work to middle school, broaden our reach to more high school students, and create new opportunities for adults in high growth sectors like IT and healthcare. Delaware efforts will receive $7.5 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Walton Family Foundation, and American Student Assistance to support that plan. Gov. Carney and his cabinet secretaries announced Tuesday to match it—along with a raft of other investments aimed at growing the state’s economy in a COVID world.
Imani Wulff Cochrane, a student at St. Georges High School, takes classes on early childhood development at school while working at the in-school daycare center and earning professional certifications along the way. When she graduates, she’ll have the option to enter the workforce directly or attend college. She says the experience “solidified her passion for becoming an educator.”

As a team, we’re proud of this work because it took coordination with a complex set of national and local players to more than deliver on what we promised, and because the next phase of work will benefit thousands of young people and adults for years to come.

This moment signals that we, as a statewide coalition, were able to make an impact: Three years ago, we said we were going to increase the number of students in Pathways from 27 to 20,000. Today, we’re at 23,000, or more than half of all high schoolers.

Going forward, thanks to these investments:

  • Upwards of 6,000 middle schoolers will have a better sense of what they want to do in high school
  • The number of high schoolers engaged in pathways will increase from 20,000 to 32,000, from 50 percent of high schoolers to 80 percent.
  • We’ll double the number of employers engaged in offering work-based learning opportunities, in partnership with the Office of Work-based Learning, from 100 to more than 200. And we’ll help plan the data systems necessary to track what’s working and address what’s not.

Gov. John Carney (left) with Rodel board chair Rodman Ward III at Tuesday’s announcement

Click here for a more in-depth explanation of where these funds will go.

Given the players at the table, and their track record for success, I feel good about our chances of reaching those outcomes. Now the real fun (and hard work) of this new era can begin.

We look forward to learning with and from all our colleagues from around the world looking to give young people and adults a leg up on a meaningful career. Stay tuned to our blog for much more on this exciting new phase.

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Paul Herdman