Goodwill, Arizona at Work promoting economic development through a trained, skilled workforce
KINGMAN – Goodwill, through partnership with Arizona at Work and at select retail locations, is striving to advance Arizona’s workforce by educating and training workers, which President and CEO of Goodwill of Central Arizona Tim O’Neal says will in turn promote job growth and help the local economy to thrive.
Goodwill has resource centers at its Kingman and Lake Havasu City locations that allow the community to utilize tips on building resumes, how to interview, and other “soft skills,” said Jason Millin, one stop operator at the Goodwill Resource Center at Arizona at Work.
“It focuses a lot on building those soft skills so, one, you can find work,” Millin said.
Goodwill opened its first Arizona resource center in 2001, and there are now 23 centers throughout the state that last year provided more than 110,000 services to Arizonans.
Aside from resources at retail locations, the partnership with Arizona at Work allows Goodwill to use Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funds in offering programs such as adult, dislocated worker, and youth programs.
“We can actually spend money to retrain you into a job that is highly sought after around here, or even get you an education if you don’t have your GED,” Millin explained. “So we do that entire spectrum from start to finish to make sure that we’re building a workforce that the community needs.”
O’Neal described workforce development services as a “social enterprise,” which helped more than 45,000 people find employment with a variety of employers last year alone.
“A lot of folks don’t realize that all these services are provided by the donations that they make from the community,” he said. “Anything they buy from Goodwill retail stores, over 90 cents of every dollar goes back into providing services in the community.”
Millin said Kingman, Mohave and La Paz counties are being positively affected by the free-of-charge services of Goodwill and Arizona at Work, located at the Mohave County Administration building, 700 W. Beale St.
“We’re seeing a lot more employers reach out to us for very skilled, specific positions now,” Millin said. “It’s not just the day labor anymore, now we’re focusing more on the economic development side of the workforce, what is needed not only today but also in five years from now.”
O’Neal noted the unemployment rate in Arizona is hovering around 5 percent but the U-6 unemployment rate is more than double that figure. U-6 unemployment takes into account people who are unemployed, underemployed, or who have been out of work for so long they’re no longer counted in employment statistics.
“It’s people who are out there that aren’t making enough to write a rent check, or they can’t buy food for their kids and are having to work two or three jobs,” O’Neal said. “So this idea of upscaling and getting people to the next level is so we’re not just getting them a minimum wage job, although that is a job and that’s needed, it’s trying to help them get to that next level, and the next level.”
Millin said the goal of workforce programs is to ensure people walk away with careers, not just jobs.
“More than just a career, we’re giving them a life, we’re giving them skills, we’re giving them hope,” he said. “And we’re there with them. We’re giving them a controlled environment to be able to learn, grow and adapt to today’s world.”
O’Neal added that helping the workforce advance through careers also promotes economic development in Arizona.
“For us it’s not just about the individual, but it’s also about helping the economic impact that goes on inside the community,” he said. “Those jobs, obviously they have a multiplier effect, and as employers are looking for a skilled workforce, they locate in places where they know they have people that are ready to find jobs.”