When Tyrek Johnson was in seventh grade, he quickly became fascinated by the design of engines and car body shells after watching Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. The budding auto enthusiast went on to study cars and provide repair work on the side while enrolled in Jules E. Mastbaum Area Vocational Technical High School. Through the school’s Automotive Technology Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, he learned how to apply the technical knowledge and skills to service and maintain all types of automobiles, including light trucks.

Now, the 2023 graduate will work as an Auto Trades Helper in the Department of Fleet Services for the City of Philadelphia – the first hire with the CTE-five point preference applied.

“I’m very proud of myself and appreciate that there is now a process in place for students,” said Johnson. “I feel it helps young people like me understand that the City cares about bringing them in and providing them with a direct pathway to the workforce. The City really cares about their employees and the younger you start, the more beneficial it is, the more financial freedom you can gain. This is a really important thing for our city.”

Introduced by Philadelphia City Council Majority Leader Katherine Gilmore Richardson in 2020, the CTE Civil Service Preference legislation modified the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter to provide a five-point preference to qualified civil service applicants within three years of completing a School District of Philadelphia CTE program. This applies to graduates after they take and pass the NOCTI, an exam meant to ensure competency. The question of whether to amend the Charter to create this preference for graduates of the school district’s CTE program was on the November 2022 ballot.

“I am so pleased to learn that the City of Philadelphia has hired Tyrek Johnson as the first School District of Philadelphia graduate under my CTE Civil Services Preferences legislation,” said Majority Leader Katherine Gilmore Richardson. “The skilled trades provide young people with access to countless pathways to family sustaining and supporting careers. Tyrek serves as a positive example of the possibilities that are available to young people across our City and we are excited that he has chosen the City of Philadelphia as his first job post graduation. I can’t wait to see all the other District graduates who will follow his lead and take advantage of this opportunity.”

Since the legislation passed, Majority Leader Gilmore Richardson’s office, the District and the City have been working together to build a comprehensive education campaign in place to spread the word. This preference was officially added to all civil services jobs in May 2023.

“Congratulations to Tyrek on earning this wonderful opportunity and starting this new chapter with the City of Philadelphia,” said Tony B. Watlington, Sr., Ed.D. “We are grateful to Majority Leader Gilmore Richardson for introducing this legislation and providing our students with an extra incentive to find meaningful work opportunities right here in Philadelphia. These collaborative partnerships support the District’s efforts to prepare students to imagine and realize any future they desire.”

Any applicant who has graduated from a District CTE program within the last three years and selects the required following requirements to receive the 5-point CTE preference on their application will get the points added to their score on the civil service exam relevant to the position they’re seeking.  The intent is to help the City recruit workers and provide interested students with an incentive to stay in Philadelphia.

“We are excited that Tyrek’s hard work in high school earned him the CTE preference points in Civil Service hiring and he has secured a position as an Auto Trades Helper with the Department of Fleet Services,” said Office of Human Resources Deputy Director Janine LaBletta. “It is our hope that others will pursue utilizing this great program and apply for many of the other positions available in the City.”

Mastbaum High School is a city-wide admissions school that offers eleven different CTE programs. Overall, the District offers 120 total CTE programs throughout more than 30 high schools and serves nearly 6,000 students. Students enrolled in these programs acquire both technical and academic skills by industry professionals, using state-of-the-art equipment in over 40 occupational areas. Students also have the opportunity to graduate with industry-recognized certifications related to their respective career focus.

Majority Leader Katherine Gilmore Richardson also created Philadelphia’s first Apprenticeship Guidebook. The Guidebook includes information on application requirements, training programs, career fields, as well as pay and benefits for 30 apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs in Philadelphia. Her office recently released its third edition of the Guidebook, which is available online and in print. You can also find the digital version of the Guidebook by visiting phlcouncil.com/publications and selecting “City of Philadelphia 2023 Apprenticeship Guidebook.”

For more information about the District’s CTE programming and the City’s five-point preference for CTE graduates of the District, please visit https://www.philasd.org/cte/.