Up in the air: What will happen to City Hall’s millennial recruiting effort?

Last summer, former managing director Richard Negrin’s office organized about a dozen young Philadelphians into a group called the Millennial Recruitment Advisory Board. The goal was to demystify government jobs. They wanted to make them more appealing and find ways to entice talented young people to work for the city.

Then Negrin left office as Michael Nutter’s mayoral administration came to an end. Also departing: Caroline Olson, a deputy managing director overseeing the project. It’s unclear now what the future holds for the board.

“We’re kind of waiting to see what comes next from this administration,” said Ben Stango, a board member and J.D./MBA candidate at Penn. “I certainly think it will be something the Kenney administration will be interested in and something anybody would be interested in.”

Lauren Hitt, Kenney’s communications director, said Nina Ahmad, the deputy mayor for public engagement, is in the process of reaching out to many boards to gauge their interest in continuing and their usefulness for the city.

A big priority for us is to make sure these boards are engaged, organized and held regularly accountable for progress,” Hitt said. “We don’t just want to have a board for PR purposes.”  

The Millennial Recruitment Advisory Board was formed in June. Negrin’s office had discovered that about 36 percent of city employees would be eligible for retirement or for a deferred retirement plan in the next five years, meaning some 9,000 positions would need to be filled. Negrin thought the city should try to fill positions with the millennials who comprise about 26 percent of Philadelphia’s population.

The board had an initial meeting in June, and Stango said it met two or three more times the rest of the year. He said the board did not come up with a definitive idea it would be able to present to the Kenney administration. But he said they had focused largely on strategies for recruitment, whether they were police or streets department jobs or the technology jobs more closely associated with young people.

Some of the ideas they came up with included a “modern” job fair that would have explained city positions. The board also wanted to use community groups to better make contact with talented people throughout the city.

Ultimately there’s still a long way to go on all of this work,” Stango said. “I think it’s probably good that we take a step back now and follow the lead of the Kenney administration’s priorities.”   

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