Last March, the declaration of the COVID‑19 pandemic as a national emergency shut down non-essential businesses. With classrooms deemed unsafe, education changed dramatically over the course of 2020, with much of the training that was previously conducted face-to-face being pursued online. To meet people where they are, Goodwill Columbus adapted to meet learners’ myriad needs in the pandemic and provide them with the in-demand skills that local employers are looking for now.
The Goodwill Columbus team has used social media marketing to recruit new learners and show them they can still pursue job training and earn better jobs. The Goodwill also uses a dedicated Facebook page and YouTube channel to share live training videos and workforce development updates with its learners. In addition, Goodwill Columbus collaborated with Indeed, the #1 job site in the world, to reach individuals as they pursue employment opportunities. Although the Goodwill has seen an uptick in people looking to learn new skills, not all of those who want to learn have access to the technology to take advantage of Goodwill’s services.
That is why Goodwill Columbus converted one of its former classrooms into an IT lab, allowing learners to get hands-on training while maintaining safety. To build out the lab, the Goodwill Columbus team installed socially distanced work stations with computer equipment throughout the space. The Goodwill Columbus team also implemented COVID-19 precautions to ensure a safe environment for learners and employees. Since it opened, the IT lab has been exceptionally well received by learners, especially those who are able to better grasp the course material in a hands-on learning environment. Those who have taken advantage of the lab express increased confidence and competence in the skills they’ve learned.
To ensure learners are gaining skills for in-demand fields, Goodwill organizations partner with local employers to determine what skills are needed. In response to a growing need for certified IT professionals, Goodwill Columbus is offering training courses for the CompTIA A+ Certificate and Google IT Support Professional Certificates. Both programs are fully funded for learners who have not completed a four-year degree.
And through its partnership with the Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH), Goodwill Columbus connects the hospital with qualified talent who have learned specific technology skills and soft skills. Learners who have completed the CompTIA A+ certification are eligible to apply for the 12-month paid internship ($15/hour) at NCH. Full-time employment opportunities become available after the internship, often starting at $48K with benefits.
Through these efforts and many more, Goodwill Columbus is showing the potential for technology to close inequities and personalize instructional opportunities for students.