Legislation introduced Tuesday would provide free skill training to workers impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic through the state's SEED program.
Senate Bill 12 aims to help Delaware’s post-pandemic economy by providing hundreds seeking work with the skills for new careers in high-demand fields.
It would expand on the Student Excellence Equals Degree or SEED program, which provided free college credits at Delaware Technical Community College to nearly 13,000 high school graduates since 2005.
“The SEED scholarship opened the doors to a college education for me by reducing my financial burden and expanding my opportunity to pursue my dreams,” said Ayushi Shah, a Milford High School graduate and SEED recipient pursuing a medical laboratory technician associate degree. “I am a youth ambassador for World Literacy Foundation, president for National Student Leadership and Success, running for college president and plan to be an anesthesiologist after graduation.”
SEED+ would open the scholarship program to adults and others previously excluded - allowing them to seek new skills through either Del Tech’s non-credit workforce development programs or its academic credential courses.
It is designed to assist adult workers with little or no previous higher education experience, and were hit hardest by the pandemic.
The bill’s sponsor, State Senator Nicole Poore (D-New Castle) says the time is right to have SEED do more.
"We set some awful records for unemployment during this pandemic. For many of our neighbors the economy is beginning to pick up, and they're getting back to work. But for some their old shops may never return," said Poore. "That's why expanding SEED to reach those adults who would benefit most from learning new job skills is critical at this point in our state's history."
The legislation also seeks to eliminate the SEED provision requiring students to immediately enroll in community college after high school, and expand eligibility to those with GED’s, and with non-violent felony records.
Poore says the bill changes other provisions to SEED requirements.
"The bill would expand scholarship eligibility to 10 semesters which will give Delawareans more time to complete their education. This critical equity component and help to reach individuals who have to work to support themselves and/or their families while pursuing higher education," Poore said. The bill also includes all credit or non-credit programs leading to the award of a recognized academic credential or an Associate’s Degree at Delaware Tech.
The bill has bipartisan support, with Democrats and Republicans in both chambers signed on as sponsors and co-sponsors. It’s first stop is the Senate Education committee.