Gaining access to the digital world can, for many Philadelphia residents, become a hurdle that prevents them from accessing the information, services and connections needed to improve their lives. As many as 41 percent of Philadelphians do not have regular Internet access or the training to make use of that access, and they cannot use online services to gain a foothold on the ladder out of poverty. This climb is especially arduous when coupled with the difficulties of searching for a new job. For many the job search is already a trying process. For those without access to online career builders, electronic job applications or the skills to develop a digital resume, it can be especially foreboding.
“I don’t have a computer at home, and a lot of jobs want me to submit my application online,” Tamika Reed from Philadelphia’s Mt. Airy neighborhood said. “It’s very hard to apply for jobs without being able to access a computer.”
Reed was participating in one of the first events that attempted to bridge the digital divide and provide access to underserved job seekers looking to get online. A digital job fair provides computer workstations, Internet access and guides to help develop resumes and assist in career training. KEYSPOT: Powered by Freedom Rings Partnership deployed the digital job fair during the Global Citizen Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in Philadelphia. Volunteers from KEYSPOT and Drexel University Greek Life helped over 100 attendees to search for open jobs online and create digital resumes to empower their job searches.
“A traditional job fair can only provide some opportunities since space can be limited, and the number of employers willing to set up tables can vary,” John Van Note, a KEYSPOT trainer, said. “Using the Internet, applicants can view many more jobs and apply to them directly.”
For residents who are unable to access online job resources or Internet services in general, the Freedom Rings Partnership has set up KEYSPOTS in community hubs across the city to provide both free Internet hours and training to use online services. To learn more, visit www.phillyKEYSPOTS.org or call 215-851-1990.