By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia officials kicked off a citywide workforce initiative last week with workshops at the city’s technical high schools and a summit at Community College of Philadelphia. The Kenney administration has high hopes for the effort.

The Eagles win and parade overshadowed Mayor Kenney’s announcement about the initiative, but it gave him a good metaphor to describe the goal: lifting the unemployed, underemployed, challenged worker…the underdog, if you will.

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“When talent is nurtured, invested and believed in with high expectations, results can be phenomenal,” the mayor said.

The strategy is to work with employers to create career paths for people to get the skills needed for the jobs available, beginning with early literacy and continuing through technical education or college preparation and higher education to build their professional value.

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The summit opened with a success story. Aaron Kirkland, now a technician with the Philadelphia Water Department, says he didn’t have the skills to get a job before joining a workforce development program like the one now going citywide.

“My life didn’t always look like this,” he said. “Had I not had the opportunity to learn these things and had I not had people direct me and help me when I needed it, I don’t know what I would look like as far as career paths.”

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The ultimate goal is to chip away at the city’s 26 percent poverty rate.