Politicans must act. How will they?
Notable statistics and trends arose during a recent presentation by Gov. Jack Markell to Lewes-Rehoboth Rotary Club. Saying we can either bemoan changes in our world or embrace them, he described a Pathways to Prosperity program his administration initiated in high schools to provide students with skills for a changing jobs market.
"The program requires 600 hours of study in specific areas that will lead to employment," he said. "Manufacturing, information technology, culinary arts and more. In May of 2016, 27 students graduated from the program and received certificates showing completion in the area of manufacturing."
But here's the astounding number. "Right now we have 6,000 students participating in the program, and 1,000 of them will have jobs next summer in their pathways with Delaware employers."
Investing in skills, he said, is part of what Delaware is doing differently from other states to create more employment. Connecting more effectively with the world is a second area of emphasis. "Many countries are improving economically, and as they do so, their people are upgrading their diets from grains to proteins. I want them to eat Delaware chicken." He also noted more Chilean fruit exported to this country comes through the Port of Wilmington. "We're attracting foreign-directed investment, and we can do more."
Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, speaker of the house, stood to present another amazing statistic. "When Jack took office in 2008, we started with a $250 million deficit that grew to $850 million. He had to deal with it, and he did. He was the right man for the right time." Markell noted that dealing with that hurdle to balance the budget and maintain the state's AAA bond rating has required eliminating 800 positions from the state's payroll.
Effective politicians act. That's what Markell has done. The Cape Gazette will be publishing many candidate profiles from now until Election Day. Read them carefully. How will these candidates act? How can they be effective in meeting the state's challenges?
As for Markell, when asked what his next job will be, he said the only higher political office would be president. Clearly he's not running for that. Yet. Time will tell.