New job site aims to get Philly back to work

People return to work in Philadelphia
A woman checks her temperature last month as the first phase of FMC Corporation employees returned to work in the office in Philadelphia.
REUTERS/Hannah Beier

A coalition of employers launched a website Wednesday in an attempt to get people back to work as the Philadelphia region’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic accelerates.

The site, PropelPHL, brings the entire workforce ecosystem together in one place, said Kathryn Epps Roberson, executive director of Hire! Philly, the group spearheading the initiative.

After creating a profile, job-seekers can fill in details about their job history, education and skills and be matched with employment listings. In addition, the site offers them information on training opportunities, community resources and financial assistance.

“Indeed and other job boards and job search engines are powered by keyword search and not by skills,” Epps Roberson said.

Workforce development organizations can access a case management dashboard, where they can track their clients during the process. The site shows how many applications a user has submitted, when they last logged in and whether they have completed their profile.

Employers can register at no cost and provide an overview of their company. PropelPHL will show them a list of candidates who fit their job description.

Tens of thousands of job openings are listed on the site. So far, about 250 are from employers who have registered, according to Epps Roberson.

She said Hire! Philly engaged with residents before launching PropelPHL, partially to find out more about well-publicized, national labor shortages.

“Community members that we spoke to really helped debunk the myth that they don’t want to return to work at all,” Epps Roberson said. “In fact, we found out that people are very eager to work, but they want to do so with dignity and respect.”

PropelPHL was launched Wednesday by Hire! Philly, a coalition of area employers.PHOTO: Provided

Philadelphia’s poverty and unemployment rates were higher than many other cities prior to the pandemic. Preliminary numbers for May show that 8.7% of the city’s labor force is jobless, down from nearly 20% a year ago.

People are searching for jobs that pay a living wage and benefits, Epps Roberson said.

“We now have an opportunity to think about things differently,” she added. “If we are to build a prosperous and equitable future for all Philadelphians, we cannot afford to do business as usual.”

Hire! Philly is working with the Free Library of Philadelphia to open PropelPHL Points, places where residents without internet access can go to log on to the site.

Discussions are ongoing to set up similar locations at YMCAs and community centers, Epps Roberson said.

Getting people back to work is just the first phase of the project, organizers said. By the end of the year, Hire! Philly hopes to use the site to establish a pipeline for high school seniors entering the job market.

In the future, PropelPHL will focus on individuals being released from prison, disaffected youth and veterans, Epps Roberson said.

The effort’s major backers are City Council, Starbucks, PECO and the Lenfest Foundation.

For more information on PropelPHL, go to