Model Pioneered by Penn Medicine and Brandywine Realty to be used in Rebuild Initiative

PHILADELPHIA- Mayor Jim Kenney, joined by other elected officials and business leaders, today unveiled three new efforts aimed at tackling the long-vexing issue of how to boost the ranks of minorities and women in the building trades.

“A shiny new skyline means nothing to Philadelphians who can’t find a job,” said the Mayor. “That’s why we are excited to announce three promising programs that can serve as models for providing viable careers in the building trades to those who need it the most.  And I encourage other private developers and institutions to follow their example and adopt this model as well.”

The three programs are Brandywine Realty Trust’s Neighborhood Engagement Initiative, Penn Medicine’s PennAssist program, and Rebuild’s PHL Pipeline. All three programs use the same general framework, including:

  • Recruiting from Philadelphia neighborhoods with an emphasis on diversity.
  • Applicants go through a two week “boot camp” to gain instruction and support on things that many people take for granted: like getting a driver’s license or being able to afford the clothing they need to be on a job site.
  • After the boot camp, participants will sign a commitment letter and will be guaranteed immediate work with a contractor.
  • As they work for that contractor, they’ll get even more familiar with work in the construction industry, build relationships with potential employers, and receive mentorship and academic support to prepare them for an apprenticeship exam.

Third District Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell worked with Penn Medicine in developing the PennAssist program. “During these days when we have so much unemployment, members of our community are tired of not being included, tired of seeing license tags from outside the city,” said Councilwoman Blackwell.  “So I’m overjoyed that owners like Penn Medicine and Brandywine have partnered with the building trades and labor for programs that I think will successfully overcome this issue.”

Also speaking was Glenn D. Bryan, Assistant Vice President in Penn’s Office of Government and Community Affairs. “Penn Medicine has long been committed to finding real, achievable ways to increase minority and female participation in our initiatives,” Bryan said. “We believe the core principles of the PennAssist program, coupled with our strong partnership with the Building Trades Council, will go far to achieving those goals, and will serve as a model for other such efforts.”

Brandywine Realty is sponsoring the Construction Apprenticeship Preparation Program (CAPP), a 15- week classroom based curriculum designed to prepare candidates for the required tests and interviews to place them as an apprentice with one of the skilled building trade unions. Participants who pass an apprentice exam will be offered employment as an apprentice on a Brandywine project.

“We have the opportunity – and the responsibility – to ensure our developments serve as bridges to communities, and that Philadelphia’s neighborhoods benefit from our investments,” said Jerry Sweeney, president & CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust. “We live in an era that demands cutting-edge solutions and fresh ideas, an innovative spirit and a willingness to take risks. Through the Neighborhood Engagement Initiative, we hope to open new doors of possibility for local businesses and create opportunities for Philadelphia residents to participate firsthand in the growth of Philadelphia.”

A similar apprenticeship model will be the hallmark of the City’s Rebuilding Community Infrastructure (Rebuild), a $500 million program to revitalize neighborhood parks, recreation centers, playgrounds, and libraries across the city.  Titled “PHL Pipeline,” this apprentice ready program uses the PennAssist model, with paid work opportunities, skills and OSHA training, and on-site work experience. Participants that have been accepted to an apprenticeship can continue to work on Rebuild sites until their apprentice class begins.

All three programs come after months of cooperation and planning with the Philadelphia Building & Construction Trades Council. “Mayor Kenney and I met during his first week in office to discuss apprenticeship programs that would pave the way for greater minority participation in the Philadelphia Building Trades,” said John J. Dougherty, Business Manager of the Council. “More recently, Philadelphia Area Labor Management Committee Director Tony Wigglesworth, the Trades unions’ business managers and I have worked closely with the mayor’s staff to finalize all program details. We ended up with a plan that is very similar to the apprentice training template the Trades recently adopted. All of us look forward to its successful implementation and to getting started on the game-changing Rebuild initiative.”