This question on the Philadelphia ballot could help solve the labor crisis in city government | Opinion

A member of council and a union president argue in favor of the new credit for the public service.

Courtesy of the office of Gilmore Richardson

Our city only works because public servants do. A career in public service can be life-changing, offering salaries and benefits, opportunities for advancement and, most importantly, union representation.

But even so, the city faces a labor crisis – and it could get worse. More than 10,000 municipal workers are eligible to retire over the next five years, almost half of our workforce. We also continue to address labor shortages created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The way to solve this problem is to create stronger pipelines to municipal jobs. Philadelphia voters now have the opportunity to contribute to that by voting yes on question 2 of the ballot on Tuesday, November 8.

The Vocational and Technical Civil Service Preference Bill – which Councilman Gilmore Richardson introduced in January 2020 and City Council passed in June – amends the City’s Home Rule Charter. city ​​to create a five-point preference for qualified applicants who have completed a career in the Philadelphia School District. and Technical Education Program (CTE) for the past three years. For this change to take effect, Philadelphia voters must now approve.

The district offers CTE programs in more than 40 fields, ranging from automotive technology to plumbing, and students graduate with 1,080 hours of instruction. After reviewing over 900 job descriptions across the city, we found over 60 entry-level positions aligned with the skills and certifications offered in CTE programs. These jobs have an average salary of $41,910 and almost all of them are represented by District Council 33.

The city already offers many preferences to qualified candidates: those who have participated in a national service program, such as AmeriCorps, can earn 1 to 5 points depending on seniority; young people who complete the Police Explorers program get 3 extra points when applying to become a police officer; and those proficient in a language other than English may receive additional points. A time-limited preference of 5 points for CTE graduates is fully in line with these preferences. Additionally, the city’s Office of Human Resources officially recognizes the value of CTE programs. A number of positions, including Trades Assistants, Engineering Assistants, and Automotive Apprentices, list the district’s CTE programs as a relevant or preferred experience, and students who complete the EMT/Fire program get a preference of 3 points when they apply to be firefighters.

The city also offers a 10-point preference to U.S. Army veterans and their spouses. Veterans and their spouses have honorably served our country, and they learn important and in-demand skills during their service. By granting a 10 point preference, we rightly recognize the value veterans bring to our municipal workforce. The career and technical education preference specifically states that it will not compete with the veterans preference. As a veteran himself, President Garrett inherently understands the value of military service, and he knows that this legislation does not disrespect the sacrifice, experience and expertise of those who served.

The CTE’s public service preference has only one objective: to offer a targeted service to young people with skills in high demand to create a career in the public service.

We know Philadelphia faces many challenges. We remain the poorest big city in America; we are grappling with an epidemic of armed violence strongly correlated with unemployment; our workforce is aging rapidly; and the pandemic has altered the current employment landscape.

In order to meet these challenges, we need smart policies that help Philadelphia’s youth find opportunities to earn family income and support and attract new talent to the city’s workforce. Providing a targeted preference is just one important way to achieve this. That’s why we’re asking you to vote yes to question 2 of the ballot on Tuesday, November 8.

Michael A. Bynum