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Photo: City of Philadelphia. 
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Hire! Philly launches new platform to connect job seekers with job opportunities, training and resources

The PropelPHL platform is the coalition’s newest innovative approach to address the challenges many Philly job seekers face.

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As Philadelphia residents continue to rebound economically from the COVID-19 pandemic, Hire! Philly has unveiled an innovative new platform to help ease that process.

PropelPHL is a new, no-cost, interactive platform that aims to connect job seekers, employers, workforce agencies and social service organizations together in a single central location — in other words, a one-stop shop for job seekers, job creators and job supporters.

Kathryn Epps Roberson, executive director of Hire! Philly, described the new platform as “the workforce solution that the Philadelphia region has been waiting for,” during its virtual launch on July 21. 

Many existing solutions to this issue have enabled job seekers to connect with jobs, or workforce training programs, or community resources.

PropelPHL provides a single platform that connects job seekers with all those things, in addition to mentoring and skills-based job matching. 

Through PropelPHL, job seekers are able to get matched with job opportunities based on their skills, identify education and training programs that are suitable for them, connect with financial and community resources and explore career pathways that support and provide economic equality. 

Meanwhile, employers can optimize their talent pipeline with diverse, skilled, trained and qualified potential candidates in the city, and workforce development agencies and training programs will be able to provide more targeted support to those who need it most. 

PropelPHL is really positioned to empower job seekers to help them make informed decisions and put them in a position where they can evaluate employers just as much as the employer is evaluating them,” said Epps Roberson. 

The development and launch of the new platform was heavily influenced by engagements and discussions with community members and leaders. Epps Roberson noted that those discussions led to debunking the myth that Philadelphia’s unemployment rate is where it is simply because Philadelphians did not want to return to work.

“In fact, people are very eager to work,” said Epps Roberson. “But they want to do so with dignity and respect.”

She underscored that job seekers want to be connected with job opportunities in which employers value their talent and skills, while also paying a livable wage. 

“Jobseekers don’t want to go back to jobs that are paying minimum wage,” she said. 

Epps Roberson noted that workforce development is a form of economic development to lift people out of poverty, and the only way to do that is by paying livable wages.

Prior to 2020, Philadelphia was already facing a higher unemployment rate than most other large U.S. cities, and that unemployment level was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as nearly 600,000 Philadelphians were displaced from work in 2020.

This raised the average unemployment rate in Philadelphia to 12.2%, more than four points higher than the national average and nearly 3% higher than the city’s unemployment rate in 2019. 

In Feb. 2020, the city’s unemployment rate was at 5.4%, before rising to 6.2% by the end of March. It skyrocketed in April to 16.8%, and peaked in July 2020 at 18%. One year later, the unemployment rate is about 10% lower than it was at this time last year, however still higher than the national average. 

With PropelPHL, the goal is to create a new model of workforce collaboration that better represents and advocates for the most marginalized communities in the city, while also addressing the various barriers to workforce entry. 

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

The launch of PropelPHL has four phases. The first phase is to put the Philadelphia region back to work; the second phase is to utilize community colleges and workforce development programs to promote career exploration for young talent; the third phase is to provide career support for returning citizens and veterans; and the final phase is to provide hub experiences for major industries. 

Hire! Philly worked in partnership with the Lenfest Foundation, Philadelphia City Council, PECO, Starbucks and more in developing the new platform. 

For more information on PropelPHL, click here.

This article is part of Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project among more than 20 news organizations focused on economic mobility in Philadelphia. Read all of our reporting at brokeinphilly.org.

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