Goodwill Industries Has an Answer to New Survey That Found Job Seekers Still Lack Critical Skills

Staff Sgt. Manoj Williams, an electrical systems craftsman, tests loose conductor connections. (Senior Airman Joshua Eikren/U.S. Air Force photo)

You are probably familiar with Goodwill Industries. After all, a Goodwill store is probably where all your unneeded household goods end up before a permanent change of station (PCS) move. What you may not know is that Goodwill Industries does a lot more than resell used items for low prices.

For 120 years, Goodwill has provided communities across North America with things such as career resources, job training, mentoring, certifications and credentials, and even job placement, child care and rides to work. Today, it gathers corporate partners to aid that mission through its Rising Together program. Services such as those offered by Goodwill and its industry partners are sorely needed.

In 2022, labor markets are struggling to adapt to the economic fallout from the global COVID-19 pandemic. As of April 2022, Goodwill says, there were 11.5 million open jobs in the United States, so the nonprofit commissioned a survey to determine where the problems and potential solutions may lie.

To help stimulate economic recovery, it asked workers how they feel about their work, what they want in an ideal job and what's keeping job seekers from finding work. The result was the May 2022 survey report, "Creating an Equitable Economic Recovery Centering Workers' Needs," which found most workers lack the skills to get their ideal job.

The survey asked 2,318 adults ages 18 to 65 who are currently working, looking for work or would be working if they didn't face barriers to employment about their feelings in certain areas of the job search process and their current employment, where applicable.

Of those who did have jobs, 68% of respondents said they could not pursue their ideal position because they needed further training in their field or lacked the skills necessary to advance. Goodwill says these kinds of workers have been more likely to lose hours, pay and even their jobs over the last two years. This is especially true, the report states, if the workers are in lower income brackets.

For the unemployed, the situation is much worse. Unemployed workers who are also looking for work reported trouble finding affordable housing, child care and mental health counseling when needed, before the barriers to finding work arose. When they were able to start looking for work, 47% of unemployed respondents said they lacked the skills, training or education to find a job.

Of all respondents, 57% said they didn't apply for an ideal position because they did not have the skills to get that job. Of those who were able to apply for their ideal positions, 36% said they were rejected from the process, because their qualifications did not meet the skills required.

Goodwill believes it has an answer to the dearth of access to skills, training or job opportunities. In May 2021, it launched Rising Together, a coalition of industry leaders and companies that are offering funding and support services such as child care and job training programs that will help Goodwill address the issues expressed in the survey.

The nonprofit initiative recently expanded with companies such as USAA, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation and Lowe's joining its existing partners, which include Google, Anthem and others working to help empower a million American workers by 2025 with access to job training and other services.

So far, Rising Together has extended its reach to 33 states and some areas in Canada. For more information about Rising Together, its services or to learn how to access those services, visit the Rising Together website.

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