DOVER — The Delaware Chamber of Commerce brought business and civic leaders from up and down the state to Dover on Thursday to focus on finding new talent and developing the state’s workforce.
“We hope today’s conversation will spark a lot of ideas and generate solutions,” Michael J. Quaranta, president of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, said Thursday morning to open the annual Developing Delaware Conference.
Gov. John Carney gave the event’s keynote address at the Modern Maturity Center.
“We compete every day in our region, nationally and even internationally,” Gov. Carney said, “The number one priority that companies look at to consider whether to locate in a particular state or region is the quality of the workforce.”
“There is a situation today that is different than any other time in my 30 years of public service, where we have more job openings than we have people looking for work.”
Nationally, Gov. Carney added, there are 10 million job openings but only about 8.5 million people looking for work.
Before the governor gave his address, the audience heard from representatives of the National Retail Federation Foundation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Delaware’s Secretary of Labor.
Adam Lukoskie, vice president of the NRF Foundation, talked about his organization’s effort to provide alternative education pathways for those entering the retail or supply chain fields. The program is called RISE UP — Retail Industry Skills and Education.
“It’s a series of six industry-based certificates or certifications,” Mr. Lukoskie said. “We’ve had more than 425,000 people go through this in 43 states.”
Some components of the program focus on customer service, management and supply chain functions.
The foundation created the program to provide necessary training and an alternative to conventional education routes, like college.
Some national retailers, like the Neiman Marcus Group, Walmart and Target, are using the foundation’s RISE UP program.
The group has even partnered with some school districts in Louisiana that have included the program as part of their curriculum.
Jason Tyszko, vice president of the Center for Education & Workforce at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, laid out a host of new ways to provide pay and benefits for employees.
One such program is an Income Share Agreement. The benefit works like an insurance policy. In it, a person that wants to go to a college or university enters into an agreement where all or some of their tuition is paid for by an investor. The student pays back the investor by sharing a portion of their income once they have reached their career goals. Mr. Tyszko said that if the student is unsuccessful in capturing a high-paying job, they wouldn’t be required to pay anything back.
The Develop Delaware Conference is held annually. The 2021 gathering was the first since the COVID-19 pandemic.