On January 15, Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, in partnership with the Office of Workforce Development, announced an 18-month initiative to advance employer-informed immigrant workforce integration, at all skill and education levels and across industry sectors. The initiative, Engaging Immigrant Talent, builds on the existing citywide workforce strategy that aims to prepare Philadelphians for today’s jobs and tomorrow’s economy. It is supported by a $242,000 grant from the World Education Services (WES) Mariam Assefa Fund.
The new partnership calls on employers to learn more about opportunities to engage immigrant talent in Philadelphia. Employers are encouraged to register at welcomingcenter.org/eitalent.
At the January 15 kickoff event, City officials, including Mayor Kenney and Office of Workforce Development Executive Director Sheila Ireland, joined Welcoming Center Deputy Director Nicole Pumphrey to announce the new initiative. Monica Munn, WES Mariam Assefa Fund senior director, and Sidney Hargro, WES Board member and Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia president, highlighted the importance of enabling the city’s immigrants with the skills to succeed in the workplace and encouraging employers to develop inclusive practices.
Bill Cropf, senior project manager with Danella, an employer already engaged with Welcoming Center’s Immigrant Fellowship Program, encouraged other employers to be part of the growing ecosystem of cross-sector partners focused on immigrant workforce integration.
Fellow Berna Altok described her experience as an immigrant from Turkey. Unlike in Turkey, where Altok’s education and experience would get her a job with almost any employer, she found it challenging to receive responses to jobs she applied for in Philadelphia.
“The situation encouraged me to do some research to find out if I was doing something wrong,” Altok said. “I had five years of experience, I had the chance to do this job anywhere in the world, so what was the problem?”
After she participated in Welcoming Center’s Immigrant Fellowship Program, Altok landed a full-time position as a technician with the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Procurement.
“City government has a critical role to play in improving equitable outcomes for all our residents,” said Mayor Kenney. “Increasing opportunities for Philadelphia’s extraordinary and diverse immigrant population is key to realizing the goals outlined in our citywide workforce development and inclusive growth strategies.”
It starts by encouraging more employers to partner with organizations like the Welcoming Center to tap into the wealth of immigrant talent present in the city.