Workforce development continues to play an integral role in local strategies to help Philadelphia recover from a pandemic and recession. An ambitious new initiative among corporate and nonprofit leaders is the latest to use reskilling to improve the prospects of unemployed and underemployed residents.
Professional services corporation Accenture is joining the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, Philadelphia Works and Graduate! Philadelphia for the Philadelphia Skills Forward Initiative, an effort to help workers displaced by the pandemic attain new skills and build toward sustainable careers in the process.
As part of the Chamber’s Recharge and Recovery PHL initiative, the Philadelphia Skills Forward initiative has a goal of using three tracks — entrepreneurship, health tech and administration, and IT — to train more than 5,000 individuals over 18 months.
The initiative has three parts, with different partners leading: Philadelphia Works and Graduate! Philadelphia will identify job seekers to participate. Accenture will offer its Skills 2 Succeed Learning Exchange platform, with more than 100 courses including those specific to in-demand industries, for the training of those job seekers. And over 75 companies have already committed to work with the Skills Forward initiative in the form of mentoring, training, offering apprenticeships and hiring, including tech companies such as The Tactile Group and Arcweb Technologies.
Nicole Tranchitella, managing director for Accenture’s Philadelphia metro office, is enthusiastic about Accenture’s role in the new initiative.
“We’re blessed in Philly that we have 2,100 Accenture people that call Philly metro home,” she told Technical.ly. “One of the great things about Accenture is that we get to work in a variety of different industries that are headquartered in Philly and do a variety of different work.”
With the prospect of many current jobs in less resilient industries disappearing during the pandemic, a disproportionate amount of Black and brown workers jobs’ are at risk. Tranchitella said her organization has a keen focus in providing workers with skills that will protect their careers from automation.
By partnering with Philadelphia Works and Graduate! Philadelphia, Tranchitella said Accenture wants to focus on maximizing existing resources toward meeting a greater goal instead of creating something new.
“Over the past 15 years, Graduate! Philadelphia has helped adult learners complete a postsecondary credential,” said the college access nonprofit’s president and CEO, Malik R. Brown, in a statement. “With the rapid acceleration of automation and a changing economic landscape, an integrated set of education and workforce offerings is needed to build occupational resiliency and mobility for the most vulnerable in our society.”
Looking ahead, Tranchitella hopes that by positioning individuals for success via training, communities can thrive and ultimately lower the Philly poverty rate.
“We know the jobs we’re positioning people for are sustainable,” she said. “They’ll be able to advance in their careers and have a career versus a job. With a career, you get more upward mobility and stability. It’s not just changing the person going through the training, it’s changing their families.”
Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.