Building A Diverse Tech Talent Pipeline In Delaware

New initiative will take a demand-driven approach to IT talent, expanding IT career opportunities and creating a diverse, inclusive pipeline of highly qualified workers.

By the BF Staff
From the May/June 2021 Issue

Delaware Prosperity Partnership (DPP) has completed a strategic plan to support a more diverse tech talent pipeline in Delaware, with support from JPMorgan Chase. The plan will enhance competitiveness of local industries and help more Delawareans create the lives they hope for through career opportunities in the IT sector.

DPP partnered with 50 stakeholders representing Delaware businesses, nonprofits, education and workforce development organizations to launch a statewide strategy to build a more diverse, inclusive and highly qualified tech talent pipeline in Delaware for 2021 and beyond.

Delaware tech talent
Governor John Carney

In addition to a rigorous review of labor market and hiring data, the research involved interviewing various populations—including underserved individuals, justice-involved citizens, people re-entering the workforce, etc.—to understand the pain points and get firsthand experiences to inform the strategy. Focus groups were also conducted with employers and training providers who work with diverse and low-income populations, organizations supporting justice-involved citizens and employers that intentionally reach out to underserved populations for hiring.

Key to its success will be public/private partnership toward developing a coordinated and demand-driven approach to information technology (IT) talent, retraining residents and upskilling IT workers and expanding IT career opportunities for youth.

“Delaware has a world-class science and technology workforce,” said Governor John Carney. “This partnership with JPMorgan Chase, Delaware businesses, nonprofits and education organizations will build on that advantage and prepare even more Delawareans to compete for jobs of the future. This pipeline project is part of a larger effort in Delaware to invest in our workforce, attract new business investment and make Delaware an even better place to live, work and raise a family.”

The work toward this strategy began in 2019 when DPP received a philanthropic investment from JPMorgan Chase to develop the plan. This is part of JPMorgan Chase’s $350 million global commitment to prepare underserved youth and adults for the future of work.

“As our economy continues to change, we know that we must also change the way we train people, so they’re able to compete for well-paying careers,” said Tom Horne, Delaware Market Leader for JPMorgan Chase. “We’re proud to work with Delaware Prosperity Partnership—their plan will help to advance career pathways, promote inclusive economic growth in Delaware and strengthen the support system that prepares our residents for jobs of the future.”

Delaware enjoys a widely recognized IT talent pipeline, with more than 17,000 jobs filled by IT professionals and degrees in computer science and information technology rising by about 20 percent over the last two years.

“There are a lot of exciting things going in on Delaware, and this tech talent pipeline plan to place opportunities in front of people who may not yet even know that a tech career could be in their future is one of them,” said Kurt Foreman, president and CEO of DPP, which is itself a public/private partnership. “We are very thankful to JPMorgan Chase for having the heart and vision to seek out partners in our community to help more Delawareans have access to opportunities in Delaware’s robust tech talent pipeline.”

The Kent Economic Partnership (KEP) touted improved resources, growing local municipal partnerships and an increase in businesses attracted to the county, in an annual report.

Linda Parkowski, director of KEP, told county commissioners that by courting specific manufacturers and explaining the benefits of relocating, KEP anticipates at least 90 new manufacturing jobs to become available in Kent County by the end of the year.

“These are manufacturing jobs actually moving into the county,” she said. “This is happening at a time when there aren’t any other new manufacturers moving into the state—but they’re coming here.”

Located in the center of the state, Kent County, Delaware sits halfway between New York City and Washington, D.C., offering easy access to more than one-third of the nation’s population.

In Kent County, Delaware businesses find a well-trained workforce, a low tax burden, below average construction costs and affordable real estate. In Kent County, there is also ample space to grow, thanks to new opportunities like the Kent County Emerging Enterprise Development Center. After work, Kent County residents enjoy the region’s notable heritage and scenic landscape, including quaint towns, farm-to-table cuisine and unlimited outdoor recreation opportunities.

A 2018 study, commissioned by the Greater Kent Committee (GKC), a non-profit membership organization comprised of CEOs and business executives in Central DE, found that the biggest potential industries for growth in the county were business and legal services, logistics and warehousing and healthcare.

Performed by Rockport Analytics, the study noted that the county was spending roughly $1.6 billion per year on business and legal services alone, but $775 million of that was being spent outside of the county. Gaps in local spending leave room for opportunity to attract vendors in these industries to the county to service the demand, organizers say.

With the launch of their Choose Central Delaware campaign in April, KEP has been trying to get in front of more business leaders’ eyes. As part of the launch, a 42-page economic profile designed to tout the benefits of doing business in the county was released and a resource-laden website has been launched.

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