Developing Wilmington’s position as a thriving and prosperous city requires excellence in workforce development.
Since 2017, the Wilmington Leaders Alliance, now The Wilmington Alliance, has made it a priority to increase the employment of Wilmington-based citizens within Wilmington-based employers.
Currently reporting an unemployment rate two times that of the state of Delaware, the City of Wilmington needs a collaborative approach to employment strategies. Operating as a public and private organization within our sector partners, the alliance provides technical assistance to facilitate the alignment of priorities, strategies and resources with workforce and economic development partners.
It is important we get this piece right because having the right pool of workers is the primary concern of businesses looking to re/locate or expand in any area. Creating a vibrant workforce landscape leads to business retention, attraction and entrepreneurship activities – all are elements of robust economic development plans.
With national organization Generation, a unique provider of solutions for the growing demand and need for workers, the alliance is working with more than 40 of Wilmington’s largest employers to launch soft skills and targeted job training programs for construction and finance.
The Generation programming in Wilmington has graduated more than 90 students from the Universal Banker as well as the Universal Construction program in 10 months, with a 92% job placement rate overall into better-paying jobs.
This partnership allows for employers to be actively involved in the development and delivery of the program, including personalized class instruction and the mentoring of students. The hiring connection brings peace of mind to employers and offers a shortcut to the interview and application process for candidates.
The employer-program connection helps employers such as large construction companies have confidence they are interviewing someone who has safety certifications, job-specific skills and awareness of the construction industry.
M&T Bank, Capital One and WSFS already have championed our job training and workforce development program in banking and customer service.
"I was most impressed with the young adults in the program who worked to overcome enormous obstacles," said Joe Westcott, Capital One’s Delaware market president.
The company is a key partner in workforce development efforts throughout the city and has hired several grads into the City-based customer service call center.
"Obstacles that would prove tough for many, but they were at the program from 9 to 5 every day for five weeks and stayed energized the whole way through it," Westcott said. "It really says something about the commitment that these folks are bringing to this work.”
Many potential employees face a variety of problems while trying to make a livable wage, from childcare to homelessness, that make it hard to start a career. But it’s possible.
Some program graduates are bolstering their resume with skills to propel them into long term plans. Others are taking a risk that they hope will keep them from turning to illegal sources of income.
The program has been described by grads as a decision that would, ultimately, change the trajectory of their life and giving them a path from unemployment or underemployment to a livable wage job.
Wilmington Alliance, Generation and area banks hope more Wilmington residents will take advantage of the Universal Banker Program.
“We at Capital One want to improve employability and to give young people opportunities that they otherwise wouldn't have to join the workforce,” Westcott said.
Hearing stories at graduation made him realize how the programs are helping to change lives. Generation’s Universal Banker Program will graduate a fifth cohort of 15 city residents in November.
"We are so happy to be helping to train and empower the innovators of tomorrow, investing in companies and partnerships with creative approaches and bringing together problem solvers to address difficult community and societal challenges,” Westcott said.https://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2019/11/20/training-wilmington-residents-banking-construction-boosts-everybody-opinion/4239088002/?fbclid=IwAR1KinwOFr30vM7qCIjZHmQhBDLiCP2FLRagy1gbOJXlGyBG6-3_yOfG554