A new job training program will give some lucky Philadelphians the chance to land a possible dream job: a position at the famed Four Seasons Total Landscaping.
The landscaping company made famous by a bizarre Rudy Giuliani news conference will help train jobless residents for landscaping careers under a program launched with the nonprofits University City District and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp (PIDC). Four Seasons plans to eventually interview graduates for jobs starting at $14 an hour.
The three-week program will train 14 residents, earning $150 weekly stipends, to identify plants and use small machinery, such as weed whackers and backpack leaf blowers. Residents will also learn the basics of Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI), which aims to reduce stormwater runoff and filter pollutants through landscaping. The program will utilize the Navy Yard campus.
“The companies that are involved with designing, installing, and maintaining Green Stormwater Infrastructures are going to continue to grow, and it’s a true career opportunity for somebody that takes initiative and really wants to learn about this,” said Sean Middleton, director of sales at Four Seasons Total Landscaping.
The Grounds Maintenance Laborer Program will combine virtual courses and in-person sessions to train city residents for two roles: grounds maintenance laborers earning $14 an hour, and Green Stormwater Infrastructure laborers earning $18.98 an hour. Laborers working for Four Seasons Total Landscaping could eventually be promoted into foreperson roles starting at $18 an hour, according to a news release.
The idea to partner with Four Seasons Total Landscaping was hatched before the firm became a national sensation, said Joshua Park, senior manager of strategy and partnerships for the University City District’s West Philadelphia Skills Initiative. Discussions started last summer, months before the November news conference made the landscaper an iconic business, or at least a backdrop for a laugh. Visitors have lit votive candles and left decorated signs at the barbed-wire fence, staging photo ops. One woman brought a small Christmas tree and her children, so they could take a holiday-card photo in front of the green awning.
“When I saw the press conference happening, I texted my boss and I said, ‘Is this good or bad?’” Park recalled.
The partnership hopes the company’s notoriety will draw attention to the workforce development program, at a time when unemployment remains at high levels. The city unemployment rate was 9.4% in November, way down from a peak in June but still well-above the 5.4% in December 2019, before the pandemic.
The program is funded through a $1.5 million grant from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation that allowed the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative to expand into other neighborhoods. The program seeks applicants from West and South Philadelphia. Applications can be submitted at https://navyyard.org/workforce/jobs and are due 5 p.m. on Feb. 5 for a start date of Feb. 22.
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