The center will offer training in diesel mechanics, heavy equipment operations and construction management.

The need for construction and diesel workers is growing around the state, and a partnership between Del Tech and Middletown is trying to fill it.

Delaware Technical Community College held the grand opening for its Middletown Center Oct. 21, with training in diesel mechanic technology, heavy equipment operation and construction management.

Mark Brainard, president of Del Tech, said he went to Mayor Ken Branner when the school wanted to put a branch in Middletown. They didn’t have the money to buy a building, so Branner looked for town buildings that are no longer in use.

Del Tech will lease the old National Guard Armory at 539 N. Cass St. 

“’No’ is not in Middletown’s vocabulary,” Branner said. “If someone asks us to do something, I say, ‘Yes,’ and we figure out how to do it.”

After hearing about the project, Gov. John Carney decided to invest $1.28 million toward it from the new Higher Education Economic Development Investment Fund.

Carney said he has been working for years to create educational pipelines for the construction and diesel mechanics industries. After attending job fairs, he realized there was a need for more workers. The governor said construction companies have told him their biggest impediment is finding people with proper training.

“We are going to meet the workforce needs for the construction industry and employees across our state,” he said.

Heavy equipment simulators will be used in training. DelDOT snow removal and tractor air-brake mechanics are among classes that will be available.

Students from Appoquinimink High School and Middletown High School began taking entry-level construction classes a few weeks ago.

One teacher said that his class for tractor air-brake mechanics started eight weeks ago and his twelve students have been there for every session, noting some even go to their job before and after classes.

“We are already starting that pipeline for the construction industry.”