Amid the pandemic, workforce development efforts have taken on an added significance in Philadelphia as policy makers and program runners have noted the urgency of reskilling a growing population of residents at risk of falling behind. Some programs combine college education with on-the-job training, while tech apprenticeship models aim to bring nontraditional talent into the industry. One newly established partnerships network wants to create 500 local apprenticeships by 2025.
Here’s another effort, albeit one that’s been in the works since 2019: As part of the PA Schools-to-Work program, Northeast Philadelphia-based State Rep. Jared Solomon presented a portion of a $2.8 million funding pot to the Urban Affairs Coalition (UAC) last week.
Solomon had previously supported legislation around this cause with House Bill 796: “This establishes a program providing incentives to schools and local businesses to collaborate on work-based learning opportunities, apprenticeships, and jobs for high school students during the school year, the summer and after graduation, and will ultimately create local career pathways in our communities throughout Pennsylvania,” Solomon said in a statement.
The Schools-to-Work grants are offered in amounts up to $250,000 and used for classroom training, workplace visits, internships and other causes related to workforce development. Communities in Schools of Philadelphia, Community College of Philadelphia, District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund, Big Picture Philadelphia and First Builders Inc. are the other local grant recipients.
UAC’s funding will facilitate pre-apprenticeship programs in the building trades for high schoolers at Mastery Charter Schools and lead to better job prospects, which UAC CEO Sharmain Matlock Turner called a critical factor in alleviating poverty and addressing racism.
The Schools-to-Work program is expected to run through Dec. 31, 2023.
Coming up soon, Technical.ly will be looking to the results of the new ad hoc committee of workforce stakeholders, called the Workforce Recovery Strategies Committee, formed through the City of Philadelphia’s Pathways to Reform, Transformation and Reconciliation group. As of June, the committee was made up of 13 institutional partners mapping out a larger comprehensive workforce plan, Philadelphia Works President and CEO Patrick Clancy told us then, with an aim to look at funding opportunities, training initiatives and the scope of need for such programs within the city.
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.-30-