Sometimes the very things you need to land a job are hard to come by without a job, such as work experience, a vehicle or even a driver’s license.

The city of Duluth has set out to solve that conundrum by creating some new entry-level positions. Earlier this week, the Duluth City Council authorized the city to seek applicants for one of the first of those jobs - a utility services helper.

No license? No problem, if you’re applying for this post.

Typically, the city has required people working its utility department to possess a valid driver’s license, but the person placed into the new helper position will have up to one year from his or her hire date to earn a license.

“It was developed as a clear path and opportunity for people to move into employment with the city, for whom maybe that wasn’t an option before because we had different requirements in place,” said Mayor Emily Larson.

Theresa Severance, the city’s human resources manager, said city staff have been looking to determine where unnecessary barriers to employment can be removed. She noted that not possessing a driver’s license can be one of those obstacles.

People without the means to own, insure and maintain a vehicle clearly are less likely to possess a driver’s license, but given gainful employment and the opportunity to advance, that could change in a hurry.

Severance said the city has identified at least three clear paths for promotion from the utility services helper position, which is expected to pay somewhere between $29,200 and $33,612 per year.

Larson noted that the city also has removed a valid driver’s license as a requirement for seasonal workers hired to help during the summer months.

“We have found that when people start working with us, oftentimes temporary or seasonal workers become full-time workers,” she said.

But Severance said the change didn’t result in a much more diverse pool of applicants for seasonal jobs.

That initial experience prompted Severance to ask: “Are there other things that we can do to create a more welcoming environment for people? Because it may not just be the job qualifications that are the problem.”

Carl Crawford, Duluth’s human rights officer, said: “We know that there’s some marginalization in our employment, and we’re trying to close that gap. This is an entry point that didn’t exist before, targeting a whole new audience.

“I think it’s a great opportunity, and I’m excited that management is really behind it, and that they see the need to break what’s in some cases an invisible barrier for folks to get engaged and employed by the city,” Crawford said.

Larson said she has challenged the city’s department heads to consider other entry-level jobs that could be created.

Jim Benning, director of Duluth’s public works and utilities department, was the first to respond by creating the new helper position, but Larson said it’s just a start.

“I hope we see more of that, and I think we will in the years to come,” she said.

Larson explained that she wants the city to lead by example and encourage other employers to provide work for more of Duluth’s marginalized residents.

“It’s a signal to the community that while we are asking our business partners to consider how they are hiring people and the strategies they’re using, we’re also doing that ourselves,” she said.

Part of the challenge will involve changing public perceptions of city government, Severance said.

“We really to break down some of those walls that people see around the city of Duluth as an employer and show that we do have opportunities and we’re working toward trying to reflect a more diverse community,” she said.