U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) participated in a roundtable discussion on Wednesday of ideas for creating public-private partnership that help prepare our workforce for well-paying jobs of the 21st century. The meeting was hosted by the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee and featured 15 leaders who are involved with workforce development, including Dr. AJ Lathbury, Jr., the Sussex Technical School District Superintendent.
Among the ideas discussed during the meeting was the need to ensure funding for workforce development programs that help develop skills and connect individuals seeking employment at small and large businesses. The senators and leaders also discussed ideas for encouraging manufacturing as a viable career option for students and others seeking work.
"Having a highly skilled workforce is the key to ensuring America remains competitive in our global economy," Senator Coons said. "Delaware is known for groundbreaking research that launches new businesses and creates good-quality jobs. These jobs are only profitable, however, if we have a workforce that has the skills to match these openings. This is why we must continue to invest in our students and encourage them to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and math. School districts like Sussex Technical are one of many districts in Delaware and around the country that emphasize STEM, career and technical education and encourage students to pursue their passions in these high-paying fields."
Dr. Lathbury talked about his experience working in the Sussex Technical School District and how the program has expanded since its launch in the early 1990s, stressing the importance of the district's goal of having every student graduate with both a diploma and an international, national, or regional certificate. He also talked about the importance of the Perkins Career and Technical Education funding, which helps support the development of academic, career, and technical skills among secondary and postsecondary education students who enroll in vocational education programs.
"We must instill in our students a strong educational foundation that prepares them for tomorrow's needs," Dr. Lathbury said. "At Sussex Technical School District we are committed to "Excellence in Technical, Career and Academic Education' for our school community. We have been blessed to provide our students with the ability to not only graduate with a high school diploma, but also earn a variety of certifications within their technical area. It is essential that our education system, the business community, and decision makers work in partnership to ensure the United States is able to meet the demands of training a workforce that is competitive and successful."
Coming off the heels of last Friday's positive jobs report, today's meeting was part of ongoing effort by the Steering and Outreach Committee to seek local and innovative perspectives on job creation, solutions to equip workers with job skills, and strengthen the economy as the recovery continues to gain momentum. During the hour long discussion, members of the Senate Democratic caucus in attendance made clear their commitment to enacting legislation that supports these efforts, and helps put people back to work.
The Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee is dedicated to fostering dialogue between Senate Democrats and community leaders from across the nation. Each year, the Steering Committee hosts several meetings with advocates, policy experts, and elected officials to discuss key priorities and enlist their help in the development of the Democratic agenda in the Senate.