Public Testimony on Temple University's Community Hiring Initiative

Testimony provided on:   December 5, 2019, 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Testimony provided at:     Dobbins Technical High School, 2150 West Lehigh Ave., Phila., PA

Resolution No.:                #190575

Good afternoon to all.  My name is Rev. Michael Robinson, I am the Director of Community Outreach and Hiring for Temple University’s Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative. 

I’ve been employed with Temple University since 2011, but I possess over 30 years of collective Human Resources, University Management, University Faculty, Workforce/Leadership Development, and College Planning expertise serving in management roles in the Corporate, Higher Education, Non-Profit and State Government employment sectors.

Thank you for inviting me to provide public comments for today’s Jobs and Education Public Hearing for City Council’s Special Committee on Poverty Reduction and Prevention. 

I’d like to use a quote from an article published by The American Prospect as a backdrop to my comments today.  In the article entitled: Is Education the Cure for Poverty

  • “Julie Strawn of the Center for Law and Social Policy, reviewing an extensive sample of basic education and training programs, concluded that education alone is much less successful in raising employment and earnings prospects than education combined with a strategy of focused job training, “soft skills,” and holding out for quality jobs.”

I agree with Strawn’s recommended success strategy of combining education, job training and “soft skills” development to produce a high talent/highly productive/economically thriving employee and community.

  • I want to reframe and underscore the importance of “soft skills” development; instead of term soft skills, I prefer to use the phrase: “power skills.” 

For over a decade, Temple University has been on the forefront of serving hundreds of job seeking professionals by developing their power skills via two signature professional training programs that we offer to the community for FREE…

  1. Our ComUniverCity Monthly Workshops is a professional development workshop series focused on resume writing, effective interviewing skills, expert job search strategies, and personal branding and professionalism in the workplace.
  2. Our 8-week New Opportunities Workshop (NOW) professional development seminar provides similar content as our monthly workshop series, but the NOW professional development subject matter content is more in-depth, detailed and structured.

The NOW professional development seminar focuses on power skills development in Communication, Teamwork, Problem Solving, Creativity, Work Ethic, Time Management, Interpersonal Skills, Leadership Development and Adaptability. Participants power skills are developed via in-depth, detailed and structured training that includes…

  • It’s 16 hours of total classroom instruction with industry leaders,
    • 2 hours of community service with a local non-profit,
    • Group discussions and activities,
    • Group and individual presentations,
    • A certificate of completion ceremony at the conclusion of the training, and a
    • Meet and Greet dinner reception with local employer representatives.

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Shifting to the conversation of EMPLOYMENT, Temple University is the largest North Philadelphia anchor employer.  Our University Founder, Rev. Russell Conwell, believed in the philosophy of finding acres of diamonds in your own backyard. 

  • In that spirit, Temple University continues to reach out into its surrounding North Philadelphia community to recruit and hire talented/qualified candidates for positions at main campus and our hospital. 
  • We routinely send job vacancy notices to community groups and legislative leaders.
  • We will conduct workforce readiness presentations and professional development workshops on site at community agencies like OIC Philadelphia, Urban League of Philadelphia, JEVS, Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Project HOME, Society of Human Resources Management, Uplift Solutions, District Attorney’s Community Engagement division, Pennsylvania CareerLink, Faith-based organizations, etc. –  it’s through these strategic alliances that we obtain additional candidate referrals.

As of a Nov. 28, 2019 campus hiring report, Temple University main campus employs 9,514 workers.

  • We are proud to report that almost 11% of our entire employees are hired from our surrounding North Philadelphia campus community!  Economically, that translates into over $50 million in cumulative income earnings for North Philadelphia households residing in our eight-zip code coverage area!
  • These 1,015 employees are the acres of diamonds that help make Temple University a choice premier institution of higher education – – locally, nationally and globally!

The Temple University Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative understands that we don’t have the capacity to hire all job seekers from our surrounding and at-large city communities.  So, as a service to North Philadelphia and the city at-large, we produce two popular job fair events each year.

Each Fall, we host our Annual Community Job Fair specifically targeting North Philadelphia residents. 

  • This job fair is held in November in collaboration with our community partner Prince of Peace Ministries, located at 32nd & Berks, in the Strawberry Mansion section of the city. 
  • This job fair usually draws approximately 25-30 employers and between 100-300 job seekers.

Each Spring, we host our Annual Neighborhood Job Fair, it’s Philly’s largest citywide employment event.

  • In a written citation, Governor Tom Wolf has lauded our Annual Neighborhood Job Fair as an economic engine for Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
  • Our Annual Neighborhood Job Fair is held in May, and it typically draws between 1,000 to 3,000 job seekers.  This year, we had 145 employers in attendance.
  • During our Annual Neighborhood Job Fair we include a mobile computer lab so that job seekers can apply for jobs on-site, and a community resource section that allow job seekers to also engage with job training agencies, and an array of Temple University campus organizations and departments that provide premium training programs, employment, and education resources.

In addition to our two job fairs, representatives from our Human Resources Department and our office, will also attend other job fairs produced by city and state legislators, community organizations, and professional affinity group partners.  One major job fair that we’ve co-sponsored is the Annual Law Enforcement Job Fair, the largest law enforcement and security job fair event in Pennsylvania.  We’ve collaborated with the Philadelphia Police Department in producing this event.  This year, PACareerLink will be the organizer of this job fair event.

As I’ve outlined, our success is rooted in our ability to work closely with community partners; to tap into the powerful synergy and resources of collaborative partnerships to make greater impact uplifting our community.

Thank you for your time, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to speak during this public forum.

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