04/12/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Build Career Onramps for People Who Want to Work: Vote for Goodwill's Proposal for Transitional Job Opportunities

Most of us know the job search experience. The bills don't go away -- student loans, rent, and just the costs of living - they all add up. What if you had the chance to prosper through employment opportunities that paid your bills AND helped you develop the skills and experience to find and gain long term paid work?

Creating a nationwide transitional job programs could do just that.

Goodwill is proposing an idea to the Obama administration through's "Ideas for Change in America." Our proposal idea, "Build Career Onramps for People Who Want to Work: Fund Transitional Job Opportunities," helps people with challenges to finding employment build their resumes and earn a family-supporting wage. If we finish in the top 10, we get to pitch our proposal directly to the Obama administration.

What exactly are transitional jobs? Several Goodwill independent headquarter agencies across the United States offer wage-based transitional employment services to selected individuals who experience challenges to finding employment, including people with disabilities, people with a lack of education or job experience, people with poor work histories, people with low incomes, or people with a criminal history. Transitional employees work in a variety of capacities,in temporary, subsidized employment that is designed to assist them in finding and keeping unsubsidized employment after leaving Goodwill. In addition to engaging in paid work, participants receive education, vocational counseling, case management, pre-vocational skills training, access to vocational skills training, placement assistance, and post-placement retention services.

Take Goodwill of San Antonio (San Antonio, TX) for example. Transitional employees receive one week of career development training before embarking on their temporary jobs. Throughout the three-month period of paid work, job coaches and developers are in constant contact with participants, helping them find permanent job opportunities and gain the skills they need to secure those jobs after they leave their temporary positions.

Or Goodwill Industries of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA), where transitional employees receive weekly training consisting of career exploration and anger management as well as counseling and sobriety help. They are expected to remain in the program for an average of three to five months before moving into permanent employment.

All Goodwill transitional employees are assigned to a case manager/job developer who helps them look for and secure permanent employment. Although case managers facilitate referrals and placement for their program participants, the ultimate decision of whether to hire a participant in a transitional job comes from the supervisor of the work site. Once hired, the participant is considered a "temporary employee" and is paid directly by the work site.

More often than not, these Goodwill transitional employees are selected for full-time employment leading to the ability to provide for themselves and their families, pay taxes, gain economic security and independence and dignity, specifically when a boss deems them their performance as "excellent." Most of all, it means the opportunity for a second chance.

Everyone wins with transitional jobs. Anyone who wants a good career but doesn't have the skills or experience to obtain full-time employment can benefit from a transitional job opportunity. Recent college graduates, people who are underemployed, people who are long-term unemployed, youth at-risk due to school dropout or juvenile delinquency, veterans who are homeless, people with drug or alcohol dependency, and people with poor credit history. Through transitional employment, people are able to build and rebuild their work history. In troubled times, access to the right employment opportunities can prepare one for career success and to become strong, contributing members of your communities.

Goodwill Industries International and its 159 independent headquarter agencies across the U.S. encourages legislation and federal funding for short-term paid employment opportunities that combine skill development and supportive services to help steer individuals quickly into the labor market. Transitional jobs provide career onramps that nurture individuals who need the opportunity to develop their talents and become tax-paying citizens.

As the one of the country's leading nonprofit providers of job training programs, employment placement services and community-based programs, the network of Goodwills play a vital role in making this concept a reality for people who need it most. We can't do it alone. Local businesses are needed to hire individuals who complete their training and obtain work experience in their transitional jobs. Public services, including transportation, childcare, health care and family services, are needed during transitional and full-time employment, while workers and their families build their resources and establish their economic foundation.

Everyone needs an opportunity to work, learn and thrive. Let's build onramps to career success. Let's fund transitional jobs. Please help us make it to the next round of voting! Vote today by visiting or by visiting!