City offers new online tool to find job, training resources

Job-seekers and those looking to change careers can sometimes run into an information overload.

A new online tool, developed by Philadelphia Works and the city’s Department of Commerce, aims to guide people to the resources they need to get hired or receive additional education or training.

Known as Your Next Step, the program incorporates about 80 resources, with information about earning a GED, learning English or finding in-demand careers.

“We sort of came to the conclusion that so many services are out there right within our city as part of our system,” said Patricia Blumenauer, vice president of data and operations for Philadelphia Works, the local nonprofit workforce development organization. “It’s just kind of helping folks to understand how to navigate them and how to find them.”

Blumenauer and others involved in building Your Next Step presented the tool last week to service providers and stakeholders as part of its rollout campaign. Work began on the project in October, and the website went live six weeks ago.

On the site, users can click on a variety of options that best describes their situation, including employment and career pathways; adult education; returning citizens; services for immigrants; and persons with disabilities.

For people who need additional help, there is also information about food and housing assistance.

By navigating through the tool, users can access details about apprenticeship opportunities, youth work permits and independent living support, among a host of other services.

Eligibility requirements and qualifications are made clear, so applicants avoid cumbersome in-person waits at job hubs.

“People really want to go at their own pace,” Dawn Thomas, communications director at Philadelphia Works, told Metro. “They want to sit on their computers or on their cell phones.”

For those who don’t want to click through the online tool, Philadelphia Works and the Commerce Department put together a resource guide with all the information in one document.

The project also involved developing an “Industry Catalog,” highlighting different sectors that were not heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

All of the categories feature jobs paying $15 an hour or more, and many require an associate’s degree or less. The catalog explains typical wages for each position, as well as working conditions and top employers in the area.

Your Next Step has been promoted on SEPTA vehicles and bus shelters, on the radio and in the Metro. Television advertisements are set to run in the near future on Comcast streaming devices.

In the next phase of the project, set to begin next month, additional resources will be added and data will be collected to determine how many people click through to outside organizations and take advantage of services.

For more information or to use the tool, go here.

From Metro Philadelphia/Broke in Philly