With the rise of inflation and unemployment rates, one local organization has made a strong effort to help dislocated workers across the Philadelphia region get back on their feet.
Philadelphia Works Inc. — a program part of the PA CareerLink® Philadelphia initiative launched in 2012 by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry — aims to transform the landscape of how job-seekers find family-sustaining jobs and how employers find the skilled candidates needed.
So far this year, recently released data states the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania has remained steady throughout 2022 and into January (2023) between 4.3 and 4.4 percent.
The report also adds that in January, total non-farm jobs were only 2,100 below the February 2020 record high, which L&I acting secretary Nancy Walker suggests reflects stability in Pennsylvania’s economy.
In 2021, The U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) awarded PhilaWorks Philadelphia’s Workforce Development Board a $3 million grant to connect career seekers throughout Pennsylvania’s southeast region to employment and training opportunities and supportive services to historically marginalized communities.
A process centered around a priority to reskill and upskill the workforce as part of pandemic recovery efforts as economies prepare residents for the future of work.
Since the announcement, PhilaWorks officially launched its CAREER Dislocated Worker Grant with the purpose of reemploying laid-off workers.
The cost of this grant initiative is 100 percent funded through federal money.
While the grant funds have helped eligible recipients with free employment services and training opportunities, workforce partnerships director Tyrone Hampton Jr. says the grant has also assisted recipients in the areas of child care, transportation, and need base payments such as rental or utility assistance, all under the “support of services” category.
“How we define someone who is eligible is any person eligible to receive unemployment, a person who has recently exhausted their unemployment, or was laid-off within the last year can be categorized as a dislocated worker,” said Hampton Jr.
He adds over the last year since the nonprofit officially launched its grant program in 2022, his team has helped and processed close to 100 enrollments throughout the region despite the increase in demand for these resources since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve made a lot of progress. Early on, we had some challenges,” stated Hampton Jr. “Sometimes it takes us a while to promote different initiatives and penetrate the system since we have a very large PA CareerLink system.”
The grant is viewed as a stepping stone Hampton Jr. says, as the mission is to lead enrolled members back on their potential career path by providing economic mobility.
An objective he believes aligns with PhilaWorks’ overall company mission.
“We’re on the mission of providing access and creating smart workforce solutions to provide employment and training opportunities to Philadelphia residents,” he added. “The CAREER Dislocated Worker Grant allows us to do that and focus on that sector of our customer base.”
The grant program is still accepting eligible enrollments until September 2023.
Those interested are encouraged to contact the PA CareerLink® Philadelphia hotline at 1-833-750-5627 or email [email protected]
Metro is one of more than 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on economic mobility. Read more at brokeinphilly.org or follow on Twitter at @BrokeInPhilly.