Equity in workforce development systems. ACCESS THE FULL REPORT.

Research Report

advancing racial equity in Delaware’s Workforce

Where does Delaware stand in promoting racial equity and economic prosperity in the workforce? Discover where we currently stand and the barriers we must dismantle to bring economic equity to everyone in our state. Discover the findings from the report, and join us on the path to building a better Delaware for all.

United Way of Delaware Color logo

Research Report

advancing racial equity in Delaware’s Workforce

Where does Delaware stand in promoting racial equity and economic prosperity in the workforce? Discover where we currently stand and the barriers we must dismantle to bring economic equity to everyone in our state. Discover the findings from the report, and join us on the path to building a better Delaware for all.

Thanks to our partners and colleagues - Barclays - Delaware Works - DRJC - United Way of Delaware

setting the foundation


Workforce development systems are designed to create, sustain, and retain a workforce that can support the growing needs of our local economy. Traditionally, state workforce development programming is complex and constrained. Across the nation, these strategies are often influenced by federal funding streams and a national history of structural racism. In this study, researchers from Urban Institute took a closer look at these systems across Delaware. Their goal was to understand where inequity exists and suggest ways to address it.

Key components of Delaware’s workforce development systems include:

Education & Training Programs

Employer Engagement

Career Guidance & Counseling

Support Services

Job Search & Placement Services

Policy & Advocacy

where we stand

the Barriers are real

It’s not hard to believe that racial disparities still exist in Delaware’s workforce development systems. Today, people of color face significant hurdles as they work to build successful careers. We see a disparity in education and training opportunities, low access to quality jobs, reliable transportation, affordable childcare, and safe housing. All of these impact a person’s ability to get hired, stay employed, and advance. This study exists to shine a light on these issues and more. Here are some of key findings:

Despite all respondants stating their organizations serve Delaware’s Promise Communities, only 15% of these programs conduct formal assessments of racial equity in program retention and/or completion.

One of the biggest employment barriers for young people of color is finding reliable transportation, but only 23% of programs surveyed provide transportation assistance to their  participants.

Of the organizations who participated in the workforce development study survey, 54% of them do not cultivate relationships with employers who actively commit to racial equity in their hiring practices.

the path forward

making workforce development systems equitable for all people

The report shows that we’re not where we need to be, not even close. But, what the report has done is help us identify actionable solutions to bridge the racial equity gap in Delaware’s workforce development systems. If organizations and communities across the state work together to make racial equity important, then life could look a lot different for a lot of people. The study outlines a number of clear, actionable steps we can take to make working in Delaware better for all people, especially for people of color.

Here are some of the actionable steps identified in the study:

Enhance Workforce Training for People of Color in Delaware

Enhance Training Programs

Deepen career growth opportunities for marginalized groups by providing tailored training beyond entry-level roles.

Transportation solutions to help empower Delaware's Workforce

Provide Reliable Transportation

More organizations need to partner with government and corporate leaders to help remove transportation barriers.

Increase access to quality jobs for people of color in Delaware

Match People With Quality Jobs

Put policies in place to match program participants with ‘quality jobs’ that meet their career needs and aspirations.

Empower Participants to give feedback and shape training and workforce pipelines so people of color and other underserved populations are represented well

Empower Participants Voices

Stop creating programs in silos. Involve participants in program design, ensuring their needs drive improvement.

Access the Full Report!

How well is Delaware tackling racial equity and structural racism in workforce development? Urban Institute researchers put a spotlight on the truth, amplifying the voices of those working at the heart of this issue. Discover the findingsenter your information below to get full access to the report!
Advancing Racial Equity in Delaware’s Workforce Development System 3D Cover<br />


Studies like this take a lot of work to bring to life. We want to thank our partners and colleagues for all their hard work in making this community critical report a reality. Below is a list of the organizations who made this research possible. Thank you, again, for your commitment to progress in our state!

Read the Press Release

Barclays - Delaware Works - DRJC - United Way of Delaware
Supported by Barclays and Delaware Workforce Development Board (mobile)
Conducted by Urban Institute
Commissioned by DRJC and United Way of Delaware
Jennifer Cho, Barclays US

“We recognize that a workforce system aligned with these principles helps individuals with barriers build the skills they need to gain economic independence. Barclays is pleased to partner with UWDE to ensure we are helping to create an inclusive, equitable, and diverse talent pool across Delaware.”

Jennifer Cho
Head of Citizenship/Community Relations
Barclays US Consumer Bank
Joanna Staib, Delaware Workforce Development Board

“The study showcases the state’s commitment to eliminating systemic barriers and creating equal opportunities for all. Delaware aims to foster a future where every resident can thrive by critically examining the current landscape and implementing actionable insights."

Joanna Staib
Executive Director
Delaware Workforce Development Board
Laurie Girardi, United Way of Delaware

“UWDE is strongly committed to expanded opportunities for all Delawareans. Our focus is on empowering individuals of all ages with the necessary skills and resources to thrive in the workforce. We aim to ensure equitable access to employment opportunities that lead to higher-paying careers and the chance for skill enhancement through upskilling or reskilling endeavors.”

Laurie Girardi
VP and Chief Strategy Officer
United Way of Delaware

Want to learn more about the study?

Contact our team to ask questions and learn how you can be part of the group working to bring equity to Delaware’s workforce.

Straight from the Source

Insights from interviewees

Read actual feedback from professionals who participated in the study. Their words paint a clear picture of the challenges they face and state of workforce development systems in Delaware.

"It is extremely difficult to find affordable housing and it impacts all aspects of your life. It’s almost impossible to help someone maintain employment when they have no secure housing."

– Interviewee

"[Before], we didn’t use the data … [data] came in, [were] put in the spreadsheet. There was a little bit of narrative, and it went to the Feds and everyone went about their business. There was literally no discussion of what we were seeing. Now we’re sitting around the table talking about it."

– Interviewee

"[We had a group] of predominantly white [participants] and the placement rate for those kids was crazy. Like, we usually struggle to place [them] all, but with that group, we were able to place them in 15 days—all [the] kids. And it’s, some of it … is [that] an employer sees that group in a different light. And so it’s just easier to place them. They also don’t have the same struggles. Where we have to find transportation for our youth, [and] those [youth] … don’t have that problem often. The other piece is the knowledge they’re learning at a higher level. And so they come to the to the job with some background knowledge that our teams don’t usually get until they get into the work experience itself."

– Interviewee

"We, as an organization, more and more, [are] getting engaged on the advocacy and policy side in recognition that that no matter how many programs we [have], if we don’t change the systemic injustices that are baked into policies, none of those programs and funds are actually going to help much."

– Interviewee

"We’re fighting each other there for diluting the dollars that are available for workforce development and all at the end. None of this is really helping the community the way that we wanted to."

– Interviewee


Sign up for our newsletter and stay connected to the stories, news and events that make Delaware special.