Formulating Workforce Solutions: Recap

Temple University’s newest initiative hosted its kick-off event in January to review preliminary research and brainstorm with community stakeholders about what creating pathways to success could look like in North Philadelphia

Dr. Meg Shope-Koppel, Chief Research Officer of Philadelphia Works presenting the industry breakdowns of employment in North Philadelphia.
by Olivia O’Neill; Photos by Kathy Chan and Matthew Altea

On January 16, 2019, Temple University’s Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative (LNPWI) welcomed nearly 250 attendees from the community for the Formulating Workforce Solutions: A Focus on North Philadelphia event. The goal of this event was to bring together the diverse stakeholders in North Philadelphia including residents, community organizers, faith-based and non-profit organizations, higher education institutions, representatives of government agencies, and employers, to to gain a comprehensive understanding of the  challenges and opportunities the exist within the economic development landscape for North Philadelphia and to shape workforce development strategies based on the data.

To kick off the event, Meg Shope-Koppel, Ph. D., Chief Research Officer of Philadelphia Works Inc., presented a comprehensive overview of the eight zip codes surrounding Temple’s campus: 19121, 19122, 19123, 19125, 19130, 19132, 19133, and 19140. Her findings included data on the population demographics, income and poverty, educational attainment, employment, community resources, and investments, and information on priority populations including returning citizens, immigrant and ESL populations, individuals with disabilities, benefit recipients, veterans, and opportunity youth. Among the key findings, the deep-dive revealed that about 42% of the area experiences poverty; that some areas of the population are diverse in terms of race and ethnicity, educational attainment, and employment status; and that the population of North Philadelphia is relatively young with a median age of 30 years old; and that between 2012-2016, PWI invested nearly $28 million in workforce programming in the LNPWI Area.

Following Dr. Shope-Koppel’s presentation, Nick Fontino of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia held a panel discussion with representatives from local organizations spearheading workforce development programs in the area. Panelists included:   Sheila Ireland, Executive Director, Office of Workforce Development; Diane Inverso: Executive Director, Office of Adult Education, Stephanie Gambone: Executive Vice President, Philadelphia Youth Network, Terrell Bagby: Deputy Commissioner, Philadelphia Department of Prisons, Lopa Kolluri: Senior Executive Vice President, Philadelphia Housing Authority, and Brendan Collin: Chief Program Officer, Congreso de Latinos Unidos. Each panelist shared the details about their current approach in workforce development and the areas that they would like to see growth in and expand.

Panelists (from left to right) Terrell Bagby, Deputy Commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Prisons; Stephanie Gambone, Executive Vice President of Philadelphia Youth Network, Brendan Collin, Chief Program Officer of Congreso de Latinos Unidos; and Diane Inverso,Executive Director, Office of Adult Education.

Following the panel, attendees broke up into groups focusing on the needs and assets of the diverse groups within North Philadelphia including adults, youth, veterans, Individuals with disabilities, returning citizens, employers, and immigrant and ESL populations. In these groups, which were facilitated by Temple University representative and an expert from the field, attendees called on their experiences and data to envision what the road to sustainable employment could look like for North Philadelphians at the individual, community, local and policy levels. The keys themes and ideas that arose out of these conversations is currently being compiled by LNPWI into a report to share with attendees and stakeholders. To continue the conversation and building off the key themes and the data from PWI, LNPWI is hosting a follow-up event, “Advancing Workforce Solutions” on April 3rd at Temple University’s Health Sciences Campus. In this event, which is open to all community members, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia will share more data on the current labor market and more detailed data about the community needs in LNPWI’s target area. Space is limited, so please RSVP here to confirm your spot. 

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