Oct. 23--With Philadelphia's unemployment rate at 10.6 percent and a requirement that people filing for unemployment benefits register with the state's CareerLink system, there is no shortage of job-seekers profiled on the state's computerized job board.
The missing ingredient?
Employers offering jobs.
At a City Hall ceremony Tuesday, 19 Philadelphia employers, including some of the largest, signed an oversize contract, the Philadelphia Jobs Compact, pledging to use Philadelphia Works, the city's link to the state system, to help them find candidates for job openings.
Philadelphia Works chief executive Mark Edwards urged employers to get in touch "if you are a business owner and you need customized staffing solutions to put unemployed people back to work."
In January 2012, Pew Charitable Trusts' Philadelphia Research Initiative issued a report saying that the city's workforce system, including its links to the state system, was not being used by employers.
Pew's report mirrored an internal report by predecessor groups to Philadelphia Works: Employers either didn't know about the system or described it as clunky and ineffective.
Since then, Edwards said, there have been efforts to fix the process.
The www.philaworks.org website, he said, is easier to navigate.
In the past, he said, there was no succinct marketing brochure listing services -- screening, training, and access to training funds. Now there is.
These days, he said, employers who sign the compact will be assigned a relationship manager -- someone who will take responsibility for developing the right screenings for job openings and follow-up to make sure candidates forwarded by Philadelphia Works meet the employer's criteria.
"I do think it's better," said William J.T. Strahan, executive vice president of human resources for Comcast Cable. Strahan had been in human resources for Comcast Cable for seven years and, tellingly, said he had not had much of a relationship with the CareerLink system until recently.
"It's one-stop shopping," he said.
Online systems have been streamlined, making it easier for Comcast to send computerized job descriptions to CareerLink. "We're able to move data back and forth," he said.
So far, four people have been hired through the system, including an advertising salesperson. Strahan pointed to that hire to show that the system can produce candidates for high-skill, high-paying positions, along with more traditional blue-collar or customer-service jobs.
The goal is to help people like Grisel Lozada, of North Philadelphia.
Lozada had been unemployed for two years when, through a CareerLink office in Philadelphia, she was sent to Temple Health to be interviewed for training as a community health worker. She now works for a Temple-affiliated physicians' practice making sure patients are scheduled for the diagnostic and preventative care tests they need.
"My family, as well as I, suffered hardships," she said Tuesday. Now, she said, the knowledge she has gained in her job is helping patients as well as family and neighbors.
Drexel University, AmeriHealth Caritas, Comcast Corp., Peco, Temple Heath, and KPMG are among the companies who pledged to use CareerLink to help fill openings.
Employers signing the Philadelphia Jobs Compact promised to:
List job openings in
the CareerLink system.
Interview and hire candidates from the system.
Provide on-the-job training in collaboration with the system to help the long-term unemployed.
Provide jobs for the summer WorkReady youth intern program.
Hiring is up, but the rate is disappointing. Wall Street didn't seem to mind. A2, A18.