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Philadelphia Workforce Development programs sorely lacking: Study

Two agencies spent nearly a half-billion dollars, but largely produce average or below-average results.

Since 2007, Philadelphia's workforce development system has spent nearly half a billion dollars to help job-seekers find work, but the results have been less than stellar, a new report finds.

The study from Philadelphia Research Initiative shows that the Philadelphia Workforce Development Corp. and the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board, in conjunction with the Philadelphia Youth Network, has spent $493 million during the grips of the recession. Yet, just 25 percent of welfare recipients who went through a job center received jobs and 59 percent of job-seekers not on welfare. Both figures are trailing the rest of the state and other urban cities.

The report also found that only 12 percent of the city's employers are registered for the system. Perhaps more telling is that one-third of the volunteer board members for PWIC have never used the system to hire workers.

Donna Allie, president of Team Clean Inc. and a board member since 2006, said the quality of referrals from CareerLink has deteriorated recently.

"Yes, we should be using it, but it doesn’t work," Allie said in the report. "Although we’re board members, we don’t have all the answers."

Mayor Michael Nutter announced several changes last year, including merging the agencies into a single agency and recruiting more employers. Mark Edwards will serve as head of the new Philadelphia Works Inc.

"The report is a value to us in that it confirms a lot of what we already know and makes us feel good about being on the right path to make some of the changes we need to make," he said.

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