Creating a workforce

10/01/2010 05:41 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Jim Gibbons President and CEO, Goodwill Industries International

If you regularly read this blog, you may have already read about the Reconnect program. Reconnect began in 2004 when Goodwill first partnered with Dell, and it offers consumers a free drop-off program to donate unwanted electronic equipment for recycling. Reconnect helps fund job training programs, employment placement services and community-based operations. It has also created hundreds of green jobs for Goodwill employees who manage the recycling program. Reconnect is one of several green initiatives we have at Goodwill.

Goodwill of Greater Washington, in our nation's capital, runs a 10-week job training program in the field of sustainable building known as Green Pathway DC. This carbon-neutral project trains DC residents who are out-of-work or underemployed in a high-growth and high-demand field. What is great is that it helps to create a local workforce that is more capable of building energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable buildings, homes and neighborhoods. And it's a proven pathway to green jobs in the District.

One person who recently benefitted from Green Pathway DC is Bill Johnson. Bill came to Goodwill after having moved from job to job following a 10-year career as a warehouse manager for Circuit City. When the retailer went out of business, Bill found it hard to keep a steady job. As he puts it, "I needed a career change and was looking for something permanent." Bill is glad that he turned to Goodwill.

The Green Pathway program includes three weeks of employability skills training, which helps individuals with interviewing skills and résumé writing. Program participants then take part in five weeks of pre-apprenticeship instruction in green construction through the National Center for Construction Education and Research. For Bill, that meant working with Associated Builders and Contractors in Hyattsville, MD, to get some hands-on experience. Participants can also opt to spend two additional weeks at the center, taking electives in such areas as weatherization, green advantage or smart meter installation.

Upon completion of the program, participants have the chance to meet with representatives from local construction companies through a private career fair. In addition to the training they receive, participants also receive job referrals and a reference from trainers. I'm happy to report that Bill was referred to a contracting company in Rockville, MD, where he had an interview and was given an initial assignment.

"The program made me dig deep and it made me learn again, and that was actually a very good part of it," Bill says. "I would encourage anyone that's looking for work or going through a hard time to come to Goodwill and try to get into this program."

If you would like to help ensure that Goodwill continues to provide valuable job training services to people like Bill, all you have to do is donate your gently used items to your local Goodwill. Whenever you bring in a donation -- whether it's an old laptop computer, clothes or household goods you no longer use -- we can then sell those items at low prices to people who can use them. Not only that, but the revenue from those sales goes directly to funding programs like Green Pathway DC. So, keep up the good work, and I'll keep telling you Goodwill success stories!