"EMPLOYERS ASSUME the job seekers we work with do not have the necessary skills sets needed for the workforce of today, that Goodwill only assists individuals in obtaining employment and not maintaining it."
Christine Yankee is the vice president of program services at Goodwill Industries of Rhode Island which, since 1863, has worked as a rehabilitation agency and now strives to provide educational and vocational services to people with disabilities and other employment barriers.
Last year, 78 percent of job seekers who Goodwill helped find employment were still employed after six months.
PBN: What are the biggest misconceptions employers may have about hiring those whom you are serving?
YANKEE: Employers assume the job seekers we work with do not have the necessary skills sets needed for the workforce of today, that Goodwill only assists individuals in obtaining employment and not maintaining it, and that Goodwill only works with people who have disabilities. All three of these statements are misconceptions. What employers do not realize is every job seeker we work with has been through a thorough 10-day evaluation of their skills, abilities and overall work readiness skills. In addition to other training opportunities at Goodwill, job seekers must participate in job readiness workshops twice a week until employment is found. As a result, Goodwill has seen firsthand their commitment and dedication in finding employment.
PBN: You’ve recently initiated a program where local business leaders come in and speak to clients. Why was this started?
YANKEE: About a year and a half ago, Goodwill implemented a volunteer program. Since its inception, employers, HR representatives and other professionals have come to Goodwill’s job readiness workshops. These volunteers have provided the much needed support, advice and opportunities that our job seekers so desperately need.
PBN: Has the program been successful in matching up any clients to employers?
YANKEE: Yes, since we have a lot of representatives coming in from multiple professions, job seekers are hearing firsthand the dos and don’ts of job interviewing and about specific industries. Employers are getting to know Goodwill’s job seekers and notify Goodwill of any job openings within their company and may even request an individual’s interview.
PBN: What are you most critical areas of need right now?
YANKEE: Goodwill needs to connect to more employers. Currently, Goodwill has worked with more than 150 employers this year alone but it still is not enough. Goodwill needs to get the word out that our job seekers are determined, hardworking, and would be a great asset to any company.
PBN: How have you combated a growing need in clients needing employment with a surging unemployment rate in recent years?
YANKEE: It has become increasing more and more difficult helping our job seekers gain employment as they are now competing with many other job seekers; the data shows that for one job opening a company has they are receiving up to 100-plus applications or resumes. Last year, to help our job seekers get a leg up; Goodwill expanded its job readiness workshops. Since this this change, Goodwill has not only seen an increase in the number of interviews job seekers are going on but also the increased number of job seekers moving into employment. Goodwill’s job placements are a third higher than this time last year which proves our model is working.
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