Labor Secretary Perez, Sens. Coons & Carper highlight programs aimed at growing a skilled workforce

WILMINGTON, Del. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) were joined by U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez to highlight the crucial role that apprenticeships play in equipping workers with the skills they need to compete in today’s labor market. The visit comes just days ahead of National Manufacturing Day (Oct. 7), an annual celebration of the strength of American manufacturing and an opportunity to educate and motivate the next generation of manufacturers.

Carper, Coons and Perez toured RC Fabricators, a Wilmington steel manufacturer that details, fabricates and erects structural steel and miscellaneous metals for the construction industry. Students in the company’s apprenticeship program gave a demonstration of some of the skills they’ve learned. Afterward, Coons and Perez visited Zip Code Wilmington, a software development school that offers apprenticeships to workers looking to enter careers in technology and software development.

In June, Delaware received a $200,000 U.S. Department of Labor grant award to help expand the apprenticeship program to new sectors and new populations, conduct outreach and work with employers to start new apprenticeship programs, and promote greater inclusion and diversity. This grant was a part of ApprenticeshipUSA, the department’s coordinated effort with industry and education leaders, nonprofits, and local governments to highlight the benefits of apprenticeship and expand the use of this time-tested, earn-while-you-learn model.

“The Department of Labor’s investment in apprenticeship programs in the First State is helping to provide hardworking Delawareans with the high-quality training they need to pursue rewarding careers in the competitive 21st century economy,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. “We must do everything we can to grow and modernize our state’s workforce, and I’m pleased that Secretary Perez is prioritizing  programs at the Department of Labor that benefit job-seekers and employers not only in Delaware, but across the country.”

“Continuing to expand career opportunities and training for the working middle-class is key to the economic health of this country,” said Senator Coons. “These apprenticeship programs like the ones we saw today help students get their career off on the right foot by developing marketable skills and encouraging them to pursue challenging and rewarding professions.”

“Apprenticeships are a tried and true training strategy than can help more people access the skills and training they need to compete for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Sec. Perez. “Across the country, states like Delaware have recognized that the learn-while-you-earn model is crucial to the competitiveness of businesses, the strength of the economy, and their future workforce. That is why we awarded $175 million in grants last year to help meet President Obama’s goal of doubling the number of apprenticeships in this country by 2019. We remain committed to working with states and businesses to promote apprenticeships as a means to help create shared prosperity for more Americans.”