Delaware: The Next Switzerland?

November 8th, 2017

Category: News, Postsecondary Success

Every state in the country—Delaware included—is hard at work trying to reinvent their economy. Automation and globalization have flipped the labor market upside down. The added challenge is that just about every living-wage job is going to need some training beyond high school.


For the last several years, the Rodel team and many, many partners have poured a lot of effort into Delaware Pathways. We’re beyond proud of the program’s growth and its yet-untapped potential: In just a few years, the number of high school kids receiving real-world career prep and training has grown from 27 to over 9,000.


Again, we’re proud of our progress. But a little outside validation is always nice. Last week, a national group called Jobs for the Future (JFF) released a case study at their national Pathways to Prosperity institute called “Propelling College and Career Success: The Role of Strategic Partnerships in Scaling Delaware Pathways.


The major takeaway? When it comes to career and technical education and preparing young people for life after high school, Delaware is emerging as a national leader. The report lauds Delaware for our cross-sector collaboration, including leaders from higher education, the private sector, the United Way, and the Departments of Labor and Education–all working together on a long-term strategy. Frankly, it’s this type of collaboration driving our work.


We have a chance to do something special.  Four years ago, Bob Schwartz, a co-founder of the Pathways Network and a Harvard professor, invited me and some colleagues from Delaware and around the U.S. to visit Switzerland to see their pathways. They have been at it for hundreds of years and are considered the best in the world. We were so impressed, Rodel added one of the architects of the Swiss model, Ursula Renold, to our international advisory board. As is laid out in the case, fast forward to Delaware’s Pathways Conference in the spring of 2017, and Dr. Schwartz said to Governor Carney and the rest of the crowd assembled, “if Delaware continues on its current trajectory, I may not need to ask my American colleagues to hop on a plane to see Switzerland; I might be able to just take them to Delaware.”


We’re excited that this work is gaining steam locally and nationally. Check out this column from EdWeek: In Delaware, Creating Career Pathways for Youths.


We have a long way to go, but the public and private leaders committed to this work should celebrate the foundation that has been laid and the lives that have been changed.

Paul Herdman



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