A one-stop shop aims to connect Philly job-seekers, employers, and social services

A view looking down Front Street towards the Benjamin Franklin Bridge

A view looking down Front Street towards the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A new digital platform has been launched in Philly to bring together those offering jobs and those seeking them.

PropelPHL is being billed as a first-of-its-kind site that joins together job-seekers, business owners, and workforce training programs, said Kathryn Epps Roberson of website sponsor Hire! Philly.

The goal, Epps Roberson said, is to match people with businesses that have immediate hiring needs.

“Our core focus right now is a mass effort to match current job-seekers, particularly those who have been displaced due to the COVID, with job opportunities in real-time … and we’re doing that through proprietary technology,” Epps Roberson said.

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, Philadelphia’s unemployment rate as of the end of May was 7.8%, about a half-percent lower than the previous month. New York’s unemployment rate was at 10.9%, Chicago at 9.3%, and Los Angeles at 10.10%, comparatively. At the height of the pandemic, in July 2020, Philadelphia’s unemployment rate was as high as 18%.

Epps Roberson said PropelPHL also seeks to help social service organizations connect job-seekers with financial support and community resources.

“We are not simply just making connections between job seekers and employers,” Epps Roberson said. “We’re also identifying where there is an education or training gap and facilitating the connections to providers that can help address that gap.”

The next step, Epps Roberson said, will be for PropelPHL to help high school students attain the necessary skills to find good-paying jobs. That “talent pipelining,” she said, builds off of partnerships with the Philadelphia region’s community colleges, school districts, and workforce development organizations.

A third phase of the program, Epps Roberson explained, will focus on marginalized communities that are not traditionally considered when it comes to most workforce development efforts.

Those communities include returning citizens and veterans. In addition to showcasing community pathways for those job-seekers, the site features a skills translator tool that converts thousands of military occupation codes into skills within well-paying civilian positions.

Free to the public, PropelPHL is being underwritten by the Lenfest Foundation, Philadelphia City Council, PECO, Starbucks, and others.

Broke in PhillyWHYY is one of over 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push towards economic justice. Follow us at @BrokeInPhilly.

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