Amy Cherry // WDEL
"We do a lot of goalsetting with the students when they come in, setting that foundation on their pathway."
More than 40 students are on that pathway right now, and the Wilmington Job Corps, run by the U.S. Department of Labor, helps them get from Point A to B. Another 100 students are pending enrollment.
The Job Corps Center in Wilmington provides free career training and educational programming in a variety of industries from culinary arts to nursing. Maureen Romaninsky, the center's director of education and training, said their pathways adjust and change to meet job demand.
"There is a lot of community involvement in the training that we offer. We work with employers, for example, office administration...if an office wants us to train on something very specific, then we can work with them to add that training and prepare our students to specifically go work for them," said Romaninsky. "We also spend a lot of time reviewing labor market information, seeing if what we're offering, if it is a viable training, if the students are going to be able to work in the field, and then, if not, we can recommend to do a trade change on center."
The center works directly with approximately 20 employers.
"We try to keep four or five good solid employers working with our students. Of course, it's open. We'll take more, but we like to have four or five solid [employers] that are giving that input and become kind of consistent--they're used to our training and seeing how we're evolving and keeping up with the times and are leaders in their industry," said Romaninsky.
The center also offers reading and math classes, and the opportunity for students to obtain their GED or high school diploma. The Wilmington Job Corps also recently partnered with Delaware Tech.
"Del Tech will be doing our health occupations training and our facilities maintenance training, so we're hoping by spring we'll be able to expand it beyond just facility maintenance and certified nursing and open up more health occupation and construction trades to the students," said Romaninsky.
The center's success is gauged by how many students end up in full-time employment.
"The majority of what we're measured on is that tail end, in that the students are placed in jobs, that it's related to their training, and also that in their second quarter and fourth quarter--after they leave Job Corps--that they're still working," said Romaninsky.
During the pandemic, the center was forced to operate under limited enrollment with remote learning. But now, with new safety measures in place, the program has been boosted to pre-pandemic enrollment levels.
"We're very anxious to have the students return back to the center...getting the classrooms all ready after not being here since March of 2020."
Angelina Heath, 19, of Claymont graduated from the Job Corps with a certified nursing assistant certification. She took part in a three-phase program that took five months to complete.
"I learned about medical terminology...they had classes specifically set apart for math if ever you needed a little extra tutelage," Heath explained. "Then, my certified training, they give you phases. I had one phase for just learning the basic book stuff, then I had another phase where you go into the skills lab, where you learn skills like taking blood pressure, bathing your patients, taking care of your clients, eating, draining bags, and then you go into the process of clinical, which is on-site training at a health care facility, nursing home."
She graduated and got a job with We Care Home Care. In December 2020, she moved on to serve as a home health aide with Bayada Home Health Care. Without Job Corps, she told WDEL:
"My life would probably be working at a local restaurant or a fast-food chain place, probably not making as much as I do right now," she told WDEL.
Now, instead, Heath is at Delaware Tech training to become a medical assistant, then she'll go for her registered nursing degree.
"I would still be under the radar, a little bit, career-wise, not going in the path that I wanted to go because CNA is the first step into nursing...that kind of gave me a nice little boost to begin the [RN] career stage," she said.
Romaninsky, who's been with Job Corps for more than two decades, starting out
in Texas, said it's exciting to see students like Heath succeed.
"It makes it all kind of full circle. We know not every student is going to be successful to the level that Angelina is going to college, but as long as we give them something--whether it's the social skills, or it's going to work, or in her case, she completed the whole package, it's great to see them coming in and choosing their dreams and their goals," said Romaninsky. "They've got lives outside of here; they've got rent that they pay, some of them have children, they have jobs, so to keep that focus and be able to complete the whole program is really great for them, and seeing them get to that end is just wonderful in knowing that they're going to be able to take that next step."
Students must be between the ages of 16 and 24 and must meet certain income eligibility requirements to enroll in the Wilmington Job Corps Center. To find out more, click here.