As the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI) expands in the months ahead, the team is building new approaches to the program model in order to better serve both employer partners and jobseekers.
On Tuesday April 2nd, WPSI launched its first cohort with Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) for Bus Operator positions. Not only is this our first partnership with a citywide employer, but it also enabled us to open the program to jobseekers outside of our traditional West Philadelphia catchment area. We are building partnerships with other high-quality employers throughout the city, which will allow us to connect West Philadelphians to a wider range of opportunities while bringing our unique job training approach to more of the city’s jobseekers.
The SEPTA cohort has another feature that will become an increasingly critical component of our approach: a certification, provided at no cost to the individual or employer. While certification programs are typically costly endeavors for jobseekers, WPSI has leveraged public dollars through Philadelphia Works to fund a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) training conducted by Goodwill Industries of New Jersey and Philadelphia. This model allows participants to emerge from the Skills Initiative with both a certification and foundational skills training, all while having earned a stipend. WPSI has included certifications in prior cohorts, and is exploring additional partnerships that will allow graduates to walk away with more industry-sought credentials like the Child Development Associate (CDA), Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training, and more.
As the Skills Initiative continues to evolve, we look forward to making changes that both expand and deepen our impact on our community and city.