Driving Workforce Development Solutions for North Philadelphia

Philadelphia’s poverty and lack of opportunity is spatially concentrated, with North Philadelphia serving as a nexus for many of the deepest of these challenges. A history of redlining and disinvestment has created conditions in which the poverty rate is staggeringly high, educational attainment woefully low, property values stagnant and often declining, with rates of labor force participation that lag Philadelphia’s more prosperous neighborhoods by more than 15 percentage points. 

The scale and scope of the challenges facing residents in its North Philadelphia neighborhoods led Temple University’s leadership to create the Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative (LNPWI). Its mission is to strengthen the earning potential of the North Philadelphia community through strategic investments, training and careerreadiness programs. The time is now to leverage Philadelphia’s growth, and the stability of its major anchor institutions like Temple, to find ways to connect more North Philadelphia residents to pathways to prosperity. Leaning into its role as a major anchor institution, Temple University commissioned the Economy League and Philadelphia Works Inc. to analyze the workforce development landscape in North Philadelphia, and to provide a set of strategic recommendations to guide the deployment of LNPWI resources and investments. Months of engagement with data, community stakeholders and business leaders have given our team a deep understanding of the challenges facing North Philadelphia. At the same time, this engagement has also reinforced our appreciation of the rich history, assets and culture that form the fabric of North Philadelphia. 

The results and recommendations presented in this report draw upon labor market analysis as well as interviews, surveys and focus groups with community members, employers and workforce development providers. Beginning with a set of findings, this analysis sheds light on the scope of workforce-related opportunities and challenges in North Philadelphia. Next, it engages with how the LNPWI can utilize strategic investments and Opportunities for Workforce Leadership (OWLs) directly at Temple to help connect more North Philadelphia residents to sustainable job opportunities. We hope that these recommendations will help empower North Philadelphia residents, help attack the root causes of poverty, and help forge strategic partnerships that can enable inclusive growth and shared prosperity in North Philadelphia.