A few hundred students signed certificates of commitment to work with future employers during career signing day Monday.

NCCVT career signing day: 300 hop into workforce

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

A few hundred students signed certificates of commitment to work with future employers during career signing day Monday.

A few hundred students signed certificates of commitment to work with future employers during career signing day Monday.

The First State workforce just broadened Monday as nearly 300 high school seniors from the New Castle County Vocational Technical School District put pen to paper as they inked their names for career signing day. 

The teenagers will begin work and earn income right after graduating high school with an arsenal of trades and skills, something that Superintendent Joseph Jones said is really what a vo-tech education is all about.

He said the day “represents opportunity and hard work,” and added that the graduates are expected to make about $12 million combined in their first year of work. 

As the students hopped onto the stage with family members or teachers to sign their papers, their employers were announced to the audience, each met with applause and a sense of pride and hope that all of the young adults will help bolster the local and state economy. 

Just a handful of the various industries and jobs the students will enter include:

  • Cosmetology
  • Medical assisting
  • Dental assisting
  • Technical drafting
  • Automotive technology
  • Auto body
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical trades
  • HVAC
  • Welding
  • Carpentry
  • Culinary arts
  • Graphic arts
  • Computer networking and programming
  • Early childhood education
  • Masonry 

Margaret LaFashia, director of workforce partnership development at Nemours Children’s Health, acknowledged that partnerships like the newly-developed one between Nemours and the district can help combat shortages in high-needs industries, such as nurses and other healthcare workers. 

There were about 10 on stage Monday that signed with Nemours. 

LaFashia, who didn’t grow up in Delaware, reflected on how she would have loved a vo-tech education and how it’s a win-win for employers and young students who are eager to join the workforce.

The district is a great opportunity to earn credentials, certifications and licenses needed to work a specific job without undergoing the burdensome costs of college.

There’s been countless studies and stories, like this one from the AP, that trade programs are booming and the younger generations have had more doubt than previous ones about college being worth the time and the pretty penny.  

And while some of the 300 seniors will forego college, some will still attend.

Jennifer Lopez, a senior at St. Georges Technical High School, plans on attending Delaware Technical Community College to perhaps pursue the credentials needed to become a registered nurse. 

She signed her letters of intent with Nemours Monday to become a medical assistant at St. Francis Primary Care.

She said she’s thankful that Nemours has been very flexible throughout the onboarding process and appreciative of how they support her juggling employment while also pursuing to further her education. 

New Castle County Vo-Tech has 38 career program areas, state-of-the-art career and technical learning spaces, co-operative employment opportunities, adult education and apprenticeship programs.

Jones pointed out that the certifications needed for vo-tech schools are a little different than traditional schools, in that the district’s teachers are hired largely based on their previous experience working jobs in the industry they would be teaching.

Career signing day was inspired and implemented in 2018 by Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and the district.

Last year was the first year that all four district schools – Delcastle, Hodgson, Howard and St. Georges – invited all students who were planning to enter the workforce. 

Coons said Monday that just like the NFL Draft, or National Signing Day or high school athletes committing to play collegiately, these high school students should have a day recognizing their achievements and future contributions to the workforce at a young age. 

Surrounded by their career program teachers, employers and family members, each student at the event – held at Delcastle – signed a certificate of commitment with an employer representative, indicating their plan to join the workforce and contribute to Delaware’s economic prosperity. 

Some of the local employers, among others, in attendance were: 

  • M. Davis & Sons
  • Nickle Electrical
  • Nemours Children’s Health
  • Cadia Healthcare
  • Code Differently
  • Mid-Atlantic Steel
  • LOKA Beauty Salon
  • The City of Wilmington
  • Diamond State Party Rental
  • ERCO Ceilings & Interiors
  • Westside Family Healthcare
  • First State Orthopaedics
  • Assurance Media
  • Bayshore Truck Center
  • Kindercare Learning Center
  • YMCA of Delaware
  • Neighborhood House Early Learning Center
  • Burke Dermatology
  • Simon Eye Associates
  • Pagave Salon & Spa
  • Police Athletic League of Wilmington

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