New program aims to address range of employment barriers

    The unemployment rate in Philadelphia hovers around 11 percent, and it’s worse for those with low education and skill levels. Experts say what stands in the way of lasting employment gboes beyond a bad economy.

     

    The unemployment rate in Philadelphia hovers around 11 percent, and it’s worse for those with low education and skill levels.

     

    What stands in the way of lasting employment? A bad economy, sure, but experts say it goes far beyond that.

    The Federation of Neighborhood Centers is launching a “Career Support Network” to help participants gain skills and find jobs, while addressing underlying family and health issues.

    Diane Cornman-Levy, who heads the federation, says a lack of child care and transportation, as well as health problems, all get in the way.

    Many people have issues such as diabetes or heart disease that affect their ability to find and maintain jobs. Mental health issues also play a role.

    “What we are seeing is a lot of depression, anxiety and high levels of stress that people are having a hard time managing,” said Cornman-Levy. “It affects not only the people looking for jobs, but also their family members. If these issues are not addressed, they affect their ability to be productive in the workplace.”

    Cornman-Levy said the Career Support Network will offer mental-health resources and counseling as people seek and find employment.

    Operating in two neighborhood centers in South Philadelphia and Fishtown, the program will also provide health screenings and support groups. Cornman-Levy said it is the first program to address health issues comprehensively as part of the unemployment puzzle.

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