City Focuses on Youth Workforce Development

Michael Ashton (Bayhealth), Fundraising Chairman Fred Rohm, Workforce Development Chairman William Pilecki, Grant Curtis (Lions Club, Representative from Wal-Mart.

The Milford Workforce Development Commission had their first meeting on Tuesday, March 27 to discuss a new program that aims at partnering high school students with local employers in order to increase work experience and educational opportunities for area youth. An initiative driven by the Economic Development Advisory Panel, under the Economic Strategic Plan adopted by City Council in 2011, the program will promote workforce development for local teenagers by providing work history, educational experiences and financial support.

Through research compiled from the City of Milford’s Economic Strategic Plan last January, City officials learned that 2 out of every 3 students that graduate from Milford High School do not return to the City of Milford after college. Although much emphasis has been given to Economic Development and job creation, the City of Milford has tagged this statistic as being a main focal point on the road to prosperity.

Through the Workforce Development Program, selected Milford High School students will be given the opportunity to work, while receiving a paycheck, for local businesses during the two-year program. Much more than an active employment center, the program will help these students develop skills associated with long-term success and prepare them for college, trade school or advanced training after graduation.

Supporting the financial future for these students, the Workforce Development Commission has developed a fund agreement with the Delaware Community Foundation . Besides the paycheck that the student takes home, a fund will be set aside for each student that can be used at the end of the program for future advancement. The student, the employer and collected donations will each donate $1 to the fund for each hour the student works, totaling $3 per hour. It is estimated that a student could accumulate as much as $4,800 for his or her future education and earn approximately $13,000 while working in the program.

“Students will have the ability to set their own destiny,” commented Chairman of the Workforce Development Committee, William Pilecki. “If they work the hours they commit to they will leave the program with money, work experience and a scholarship when they graduate.”

Commission members hope to have the program started this summer with several students becoming the first class of workforce development participants. A selection committee, which will be chaired by the Milford School District Superintendent, will help choose the students that will be involved. Students will be 16 years old, the minimum age of employment in Delaware, and continue the program for two years until they graduate from high school. Upon completion of the program it is possible that employers will offer qualified students a permanent job.

“Members of the business community need to understand the entire scope of this program,” commented Fundraising Chairman Fred Rohm. “It will benefit the businesses by developing a quality workforce and offer them potential long-term employees.”

Members of the Workforce Development Commission will be contacting local businesses to solicit their participation and financial support for the program. To date, the program has raise $8,000 with local companies such as I.G. Burton, Fitzgerald’s Salvage and Recycling, Milford Chamber of Commerce, Richard Y. Johnson, Milford Lions Club, Studio JAED, Wal-Mart and Bayhealth making contributions.

If Individuals would like to make a donation to the program, checks can be made payable to the Workforce Development Commission and mailed to Milford City Hall at 201 South Walnut Street, Milford, DE 19963. Businesses interested in being a part of the program can contact Fred Rohm at 302-284-7672 or William Pilecki at 302-632-2228.