(Photo by Flickr user Michlt, used under a Creative Commons license)
The local tech industry represented 15,000 workers with average pay of $127,000 in 2016. Yet 53% of the industry was made up of jobs that require a bachelor’s degree or higher. When comparing that to the 28.6% of Philadelphians who actually have those degrees, it’s clear there’s a disconnect between who is and isn’t being employed in the fast-growing sector.
The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Workforce Development was formed two years ago in an effort to direct job training and growth programs while addressing transforming industries and a changing population.
Since then, it has developed the goal of helping the city and the companies that are built here find sustainable talent pipelines. That effort can be seen in a strategy the office developed called Fueling Philadelphia’s Talent Engine, a coordinated and collaborative effort across education, job training and other supportive services to drive economic growth with equity.
And now, Kim Stott, director of workforce partnerships for the office, said her team is setting its sights on building a more equitable pipeline for Philly’s tech ecosystem via an initiative called the Greater Philadelphia Technology Partnership (GPTP). It’s an evolution of 2018’s Tech Industry Partnership, which also convened tech leaders in strategic conversation and data sharing, yet stalled following some internal staff changes, Stott told Technical.ly.
This partnership “brings together key players from the technology, education, government, workforce, and nonprofit sectors in a collaboration aimed at promoting growth in the technology sector and strengthening Philadelphia’s overall economic vitality,” program materials say.
Essentially, the City wants know know what challenges currently face workers and tech companies in the hopes of providing better access and opportunity to all.
“It really has the hope of increasing diversity in tech infrastructure and roles,” Stott said.
The tech industry is rich with opportunities and life-sustaining careers, she said. The partnerships is aiming to connect folks already living, working or learning at Philadelphia institutions with those types of jobs. (It reminds of a similar-sounding mission that some STEM-focused orgs over in University City are working on.)
The Office of Workforce Development is working with companies in a range of sizes from those who employ 20 or 30 people to those that employ thousands, Stott said. The office has reached out to companies it’s worked with before, including via the Tech Industry Partnership, and has leaned on recommendations from other City departments such as the Office of Innovation and Technology or area organizations like the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
Those in the partnership can expect networking, B2B solution discussions, resource sharing, pipeline development, and access to training and grants, according to program materials.
The companies involved — about 20 so far — include mostly those in the tech consulting or tech services industries. Stott couldn’t yet name any of the companies involved in the partnership, but said they would attend a first meeting of stakeholders in March 18 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Company reps interested in learning more about the GPTP can reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We are really looking to partner on building longer-term pipelines to this industry,” she said. “Whether it’s working with talent that already exists or leveraging our higher ed network to fulfill that pipeline. How do we help Philadelphians fill these roles?”
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