In the TechBridge Talks Podcast season 2 episode 2, host Adam Walker sat down with Keith Parker, president and chief executive officer of Goodwill of North Georgia. As one of the southeast U.S.’s largest retail and nonprofit organizations, Goodwill of North Georgia spans a 45-county territory. They operate 67 stores, 52 attended donation centers, and 13 career centers.
This TechBridge Talks episode is an in-depth look into Goodwill’s career training, how the organization promotes upward mobility, and how Goodwill helps people find and keep jobs.
A Variety of Career Pathways
Goodwill has 13 Career Centers throughout North Georgia. They offer a variety of services at these centers. Goodwill makes a number of resources available for basic job preparation, such as resumé software, computers, cover letter and resumé coaching, and career fairs. Goodwill of North Georgia also offers training programs for people to gain technical skills and certifications. These include computer skills, construction, logistics, hospitality, and healthcare environmental services.
During the interview, Parker said that the success rates of people finding long-term, fulfilling employment are higher when job-seekers are assisted through the Goodwill Career Centers:
What we have found is that our greatest success is when people still come into our facilities. We have 13 Career Centers sprinkled throughout North Georgia, and when people come in and go through the entire training program, they get all the wraparound services we can offer. The success rate is much higher than other rates.
The career training provided by Goodwill is accessible to most of North Georgia: approximately 90% of the population within North Georgia is within a 10-minute drive of a Goodwill store.
The Technology Factor
Goodwill of North Georgia is a longtime sponsor and partner in our Technology Career Program. Goodwill and TechBridge understand the importance of technology training to advance the success of people looking for meaningful employment. No matter how low-tech a job may appear from its description, technology is
almost mandatory in virtually every job now, according to Parker. Goodwill is adapting its training programs to prioritize technology literacy and skills.
Parker shared an example of a technology-focused training effort in this episode as he talked about a Zoom training that Goodwill developed.
So, one of our more successful programs was working directly with people to get them Zoom and get them training with some of these new technologies [to increase] the number of places [that] would hire them. Once they got the Zoom training, then they could do a lot more of the other things we do virtually. Sometimes it takes a nudge and sometimes it takes even a push to get people in that direction.
Goodwill of North Georgia understands the importance of technology literacy when prioritizing upward mobility of the communities they serve.
Serving the Most Vulnerable
Goodwill works with clients spanning a wide spectrum in terms of age, gender, and education. Parker said that many of the people they work with have not been in the workforce for several years. Whether that employment gap was due to raising kids, battling drug and alcohol dependency, being incarcerated, or experiencing housing insecurity, Career Center clients face huge barriers to employment.
The Goodwill team emphasizes with all of their clients a willingness to work to improve their career prospects and income-earning potential. Parker concludes
Anybody — you don’t have to have any training or anything like that — [can] come through the door and we’ll have everything for you.