On Wednesday, March 29th, UCD was honored to welcome Mayor Jim Kenney to the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative. The Mayor joined our current Allied Universal participants – as well as WPSI graduates and staff – to learn about our unique approach to helping local residents find meaningful employment with our employer partners.
After meeting current participants and asking about their career history and future aspirations, he told the cohort about his own professional journey. He regaled them with stories from growing up in a South Philadelphia row home, the jobs he held as a young man, and the transformative impact of his education, which taught him that “you’re never a happy person unless you’re serving others” and drove him to pursue public service. The Mayor shared an overview of his administration’s priorities – including Pre-K, community schools, Rebuild (the initiative to invest in parks, rec centers, and libraries), and criminal justice reform – which are intended to holistically change the narrative of poverty. Like those of us at UCD, the Mayor believes that job training is a critical piece of the puzzle. “We’ve got to get people in our communities plugged into our economy,” he explained.
The Mayor answered participants’ questions about working in public service, and provided them with advice on how to move careers forward, saying, “It’s about building relationships.” He also encouraged them to “meet everyone you can meet; talk to everyone you can talk to; get everyone’s information; and put your best foot forward.”
As the cohort prepares for their interviews with Allied Universal, they will surely be thinking about the Mayor’s words, which were particularly important for a program focused on building the soft skills necessary to gain employment and advance in the workplace.