With a population on the rise, the job market expanding and economic development increasing, Philadelphia is in the midst of transformation. And while a good job is a tool to fight poverty, the reality is that a career offers a more long-term solution that can support a family and create opportunities for advancement.
The good news is that the City of Philadelphia and a coalition of partners this month unveiled a robust citywide workforce development strategy, Fueling Philadelphia’s Talent Engine focused on making the shift from finding jobs to developing careers.
Connecting career pathways is an issue that we’re passionate about, as well, and we’re committed to helping our young adults and families succeed in our mission to end intergenerational poverty in the region. Together, with partners like the City of Philadelphia, its new Office of Workforce Development, and other core partners, such as Generation Work, we are working to prepare Philadelphians with the skills employers need for a world-class workforce.
Through our Job Opportunities Investment Network (JOIN) — a collaborative of workforce development funders—we are fostering racial and social equity through inclusive community and economic development investments throughout the region. And as a steering committee member in Fueling Philadelphia’s Talent Engine, JOIN will engage 4,000 opportunity youth and young adults in a comprehensive, sector-based career pathway program.
What makes this workforce strategy different? It’s not just about placing individuals in short-term or entry-level jobs with no prospect of progression, but rather, providing a continuum of support to help Philadelphia residents build the skills they need to secure full-time jobs with opportunities for growth and advancement. The strategy focuses on closing the skills gap and works to reduce poverty by addressing the unique challenges that workers face, such as:
- Aligning Philadelphia’s workforce, economic development and education institutions to business needs.
- Strengthening key skills such as reading, writing, numeracy and digital literacy.
- Developing a long-term strategy to increase economic mobility for residents living in poverty.
- Preparing Philadelphia youth for college and careers.
- Removing barriers for segments of the population who face greater obstacles to employment, like opportunity youth (ages 16-24, disconnected from school and work), residents returning from incarceration, and immigrants.
It’s time to rethink education and training so that students and job-seekers are provided with equitable access to opportunities that enable them to build skills and experience in order to get family-sustaining jobs. As a committed partner in this critical work, we will be a voice in championing policy, systems and best-practice changes that are needed to Live United against poverty and fight for the success of every person in every community.