Public Testimony on Temple University's Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative

Jobs and Education Public Hearing

City Council’s Special Committee on Poverty Reduction and Prevention

Testimony provided by:       Shirley Moy, Executive Dir., Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative, Temple University – shirley.moy@temple.edu

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

Testimony provided at:        Dobbins Technical High School, 2150 West Lehigh Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

Resolution No.:                       190575


Thank you for the opportunity to provide a public comment at the Jobs and Education Public Hearing for City Council’s Special Committee on Poverty Reduction and Prevention.  Firstly, I would like to introduce myself as the Executive Director of the Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative, which is under the Office of the Vice President of Public Affairs at Temple University.  While I assumed this position in 2018, I have over twenty years working at the university,

My colleague, Michael Robinson, is also providing testimony, and I am here today to elaborate on how Temple is contributing, and more importantly, how the Temple LNPWI can expand and support the proposed Jobs and Education strategies — particularly for the North Philadelphia community. 

With a $2.6 million grant from The Lenfest Foundation for fiscal year 2019-20, the Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative was able to redistribute $1.8 million for eleven distinct projects that intentionally involved community and university partnerships, that was in response to data that was collected by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and Philadelphia Works, Inc., and which aligned with the City’s workforce plans. 

I will highlight areas which relate to the “Narrowing the Gap” strategies, and share thoughts about how we could move forward in alignment with City Council’s interest in implementing actionable policies and programs that substantively prevent and alleviate poverty.

Under the strategy for “Bolstering Support for the School District of Philadelphia,” Temple is partnering with several high schools to create training and internship opportunities at Temple University and Temple University Health Systems.  What needs to be done … there is a need to coordinate the system, as there are multiple requests from providers to the same employer for limited internship slots.    As you can imagine, an uncoordinated process fosters competition for slots, can be time consuming for employers, and may not be in the best interests of those youth, whom we are collectively serving.

Under the strategy for “Partnering with Building Trades to Provide Job Training for Returning Citizens”, the Temple LNPWI is supporting the Center for Employment Opportunities which focuses on connecting returning citizens with training opportunities in Property Maintenance, Groundskeeping, Construction, Renovation/Installation, Weatherization, and other building trades – their model involves paying the workers at the end of the workday.  While not focused on returning citizens only, Temple partnered with the Philadelphia Housing Authority and the Electrical Association of Philadelphia to provide PHA residents with training in construction-related industries.  What needs to be done … the construction-related industry employers and all of the interested workforce development partners need to be at the table to transparently discuss hiring and training needs, as well as the actual employment opportunities and processes to on-board and retain a person with limited construction-related experience.  This will ensure that trainings are tailored for the needs of both returning citizens and the employer, leading to actual, sustainable jobs.

Under the strategy for “Sponsor Programs to Support Hiring and Training Entry-Level Workers” as well as “Provide Resources for Short-Term Credentialing Programs to Accelerate the Transition from Training to Work,” Temple and its partners have trained individuals for entry-level positions (that require only a high school equivalency) and industry recognized certifications, such as our 120 hour Community Health Worker training and 60 hour Customer Service training, the 150 hour Electrical Association of Philadelphia training, and through our community partner’s training programs for Perinatal Community Health Workers, Certified Peer Specialists, and bilingual Human Services workers. What needs to be done … while we currently have funding from The Lenfest Foundation, funding to continue these types of programs that demonstrate their success in providing entry-level jobs for individuals, and which lead to careers with family sustaining wages.

Under the strategy for “Provide Resources to Support Vocational and Middle-College Programs,” Temple LNPWI is focuses on Opportunity Youth and Adults who need to obtain their high school equivalency and who also have a desire to go on to post-secondary education. In partnership with Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia, Temple has opened a Helms Academy on its main campus to help adults obtain their high school equivalency while earning college credits – at no financial cost to them — through Community College of Philadelphia. The Dornsife Center in West Philadelphia also has a Helms Academy.  What needs to be done … the City can develop strategies that inform the community-at-large, at a very grassroots level.  Programs exist, but people are not aware, and hence, do not take advantage of them.

And finally, under the strategy to “Partner with Universities to Provide Career Coaching in Every Neighborhood.”   There is a Workforce Hub at Temple’s Main Campus, that also serves as a KeySpot location.   At this site, the Temple LNPWI will be opening up its self-funded MyPlace Campus, in collaboration with the City’s Office of Adult Education, where residents can get assessed and referred to adult literacy programs.  Come January 2020, our new MyPlace Coordinator and a Career Coach will be able help folks find resources, get support with job searches and resumes, participate in professional development workshops, build their digital literacy, and obtain other supportive services.   What needs to be done … again, public awareness is critical, as programs exist, but people are not aware, and hence, do not take advantage of them. 

In closing, taking into consideration City Council’s proposed strategies and based on our “Guide for Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative Strategic Investments” report, which is available through our website, www.templelnpwi.org, priority should be placed on:

  • Fostering connections and collaboration in the workforce development ecosystem
  • Supporting and elevating human resources practices that benefit the unemployed, under-employed and underpaid workers
  • Supporting data-informed workforce development programming and training
  • Expanding access to supportive services

Thank you for your time.

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