PHILADELPHIA – Mayor Kenney visited the City’s auto repair facility in Hunting Park this afternoon to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Office of Fleet Management’s successful Automotive Apprenticeship Program. The Mayor joined high school students who currently serve in the program as well as program alumni, many of whom still work for the City.

Participants in the program start as interns during the summer before their junior year of high school. They work full-time during the summer and continue working part-time during the school year. Interns learn important auto maintenance skills and work in different Fleet Management facilities across the city. After successfully completing the internship, they then are eligible to become full-time Automotive Apprentices. After three years, apprentices qualify for the civil service exam and can be promoted to full-time Automotive Technicians.

“I am a very big supporter of expanding access to apprenticeships for students across our city,” said Mayor Kenney. “Fleet Management’s apprenticeship program provides students with valuable skills that put them on a viable career pathway while they’re still in high school. The success of this program is a key reason why we decided to increase funding for apprenticeship programs in this year’s fiscal budget, so we can provide even more of these excellent opportunities to our young people.”

The program started as a joint labor/management initiative between the City and District Council 33, Local 1637. Christine Derenick-Lopez, currently the City’s Chief Administrative Officer, was instrumental in starting the program back in 1993 when she served as Fleet Management’s HR Director. She created the program with Ann Cohen, who was President of Local 1637 at the time. Since then, 125 students have participated in the program.

“It has been so rewarding to see this program grow since we started it 25 years ago,” said Derenick-Lopez. “It is a testament to the program’s enduring success that we have graduates of the program, several of them in leadership positions working for the City. In addition to the career development it offers participants, this program is also an effective recruiting tool for the City that helps us place skilled workers in specialized positions that aren’t always easy to fill. It’s really a win-win for everyone involved.”

As one of the largest employers in Philadelphia, City government has committed to lead by example in providing high-quality career pathways that attract, prepare, retain, and promote a diverse and talented workforce. The City’s support for apprenticeship programs is a key component of the workforce development strategy that Mayor Kenney unveiled earlier this year, “Fueling Philadelphia’s Talent Engine.”

City as Model Employer is one of the strategy’s major initiatives, with the goal of increasing the talent, diversity, and operational efficiency of the municipal workforce. Ten City departments, including Fleet Management, are currently participating in this initiative, which aims to place 200 people into permanent employment with the City by 2020.