By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney plans to lay out a major new workforce initiative when he delivers his annual address to the Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

One key goal is overcoming barriers that contribute to a high rate of unemployment and poverty in the city.

The mayor is expected to announce the creation of an Office of Workforce Development that will not only assist job-seekers but also businesses that sign up to be so-called “Model Employers.”

That is, employers who recruit, hire, train and advance a workforce that is representative of Philadelphia’s population, and that includes workers with obstacles to overcome — immigrants, returning offenders, people who’ve lived their lives in poverty and youth who’ve never been in the workforce.

The city’s been running a pilot in its own hiring for a year, preparing job candidates for middle-skill jobs that are difficult to fill for both the city and private companies.

The mayor’s pitch is that hiring locally leads to better retention and productivity, and now, support for the effort from city government and a coalition of partners, including the Chamber, PIDC, Philadelphia Works, the school district and community college of Philadelphia.

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