College stays in step with state’s evolving workforce needs

Pg14markBrainardBy Dr. Mark T. Brainard
Guest Columnist

At Delaware Tech, we have our “finger on the pulse” of Delaware’s current and future workforce needs. Here’s how we’re putting Delawareans to work in high-demand fields.

In the last two years, the College has expanded in three key areas to help meet workforce demand. In nursing, we introduced an accelerated version of our degree program to help graduates enter the field more quickly. In allied health, we increased the capacity of our paramedic program in response to a joint request from the county agencies and the Delaware State Police. And in aviation, we expanded our FAA-certified aviation maintenance technology program that prepares students to maintain both the shell and engine of an aircraft.

The college is able to quickly respond to industries like health care and aviation because our programs are guided by advisory committees of employers and industry experts. The college also relies upon its Center for Industry Research and Workforce Alignment (CIRWA) to help anticipate, identify, and respond to the state’s evolving workforce needs.

In 2012, CIRWA’s first labor market study on the energy industry revealed that there was an unmet need for technicians who could manage Building Automation Systems (BAS). These are the centralized networks that monitor and control the environment in commercial buildings, thereby reducing energy costs. In response, the college sought and received federal grant funding to launch a BAS associate degree program last fall at our Dover Campus. The curriculum incorporates two certificate programs that will provide graduates with industry-recognized credentials to enhance their employability.

Two recent engineering technology studies — conducted in partnership with Gov. Jack Markell’s STEM council — revealed a high demand in the region for engineering technicians in a variety of disciplines including civil, electrical, construction management and drafting disciplines. The study also identified an emerging need for technicians with geographic information systems (GIS) skills and spurred the launch of a new GIS associate degree program at our Stanton location this fall.

Last year, a survey of the workforce needs of the state’s manufacturers helped shape the curriculum for a dual enrollment program for local high school students that is preparing them for advanced manufacturing jobs upon graduation. This dual enrollment program is part of Gov. Markell’s Pathways to Prosperity initiative and is now available to students in five school districts across the state.

This year, the CIRWA is conducting a labor market study on the region’s IT industry. While the final report won’t be available until December, it’s clear that networking experts and developers are just two of the jobs in high demand. In response, and with the support of JP Morgan Chase & Co., the College recently launched a CISCO Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certificate program.

All of these programs — developed in response to the specific needs of employers —help ensure that every Delawarean has access to an affordable education that can prepare them for high-demand jobs while providing the skills that Delaware businesses need to remain competitive. For more information on Delaware Tech, please visit www.dtcc.edu.

Dr. Mark T. Brainard is the president of Delaware Technical Community College.

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