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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.