Op-ed: Business community commits to hiring thousands of Philadelphians

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The capacity of our business and civic community to move quickly for impact has never been more apparent than with this month’s launch of the Philadelphia Skills Forward initiative.

A collaboration between the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, Accenture, Graduate! Philadelphia, and Philadelphia Works, Inc., Skills Forward will retrain and deploy workers displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn, particularly Black and brown citizens as well as those whose jobs are at risk of automation. The effort is part of the Chamber’s Recharge & Recover PHL (RechargePHL) initiative, and aligns with implementation and action toward the longer-term aspiration for Philadelphia to be a new national model to learn, apprentice, and work in the jobs of the future.

Volunteer leaders of this initiative — Accenture’s Nicole Tranchitella, PECO’s Mike Innocenzo, and Citizen Bank’s Dan Fitzpatrick — and some 75 employers from throughout the city and region have raised their hands to make a commitment to hire, mentor, or teach the 5,000 workers projected to be reskilled over the next three years by this initiative as part of the Recharge & Recover PHL recommendations developed last spring.

The platform will also provide options for overall skill development. These tracks include:

• Entrepreneurship with a focus on learning how to start your own business.

• Health tech and administration seeking to train specialists in the fields of medical records, billing and coding, clerking, and care management.

• Information technology to train our region’s next wave of network & computer systems administrators, IT support specialists, and customer support/help desk personnel.

 RechargePHL identified the need to reskill workers for these in-demand roles and have employers commit to a skills-based hiring pledge across industries to diversify talent pipelines in our business community and get our citizens back to work. 

Specifically, the work will be made possible through the coordination of partner organizations, each bringing key tools and stakeholder communities to the project:

• Local Workers: Graduate! Philadelphia and Philadelphia Works, Inc. will generate a pipeline of unemployed and underemployed job seekers to be supported and trained by this initiative during their employment search.

• Training Platform: Accenture has created the Skills 2 Succeed Learning Exchange (LX) platform to train these job seekers for high-demand roles in growth industries and provide access to 100+ foundational, jobseeker, and industry-specific courses.

• Regional Businesses: The Chamber is identifying regional businesses in growth industries that can support the training, mentorship, and eventual employment of these job seekers.

We encourage other regional employers to raise your hand and tell us how you can help to forge a path toward inclusive regional recovery.

 For additional information, please reach out to Patty Day at [email protected].

Rob Wonderling is President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. He can be reached at [email protected]

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