Brain Gain Resources

Goodwill Takes Training Program on the Road

YOUNGSTOWN – A digital mobile training center on wheels will help narrow the gap in the  digital divide for displaced workers and improve work training skills for younger generations.

Youngstown Area Goodwill Industries unveiled its Mobile Technical and Instructional Vehicle Thursday at the service agency’s Belmont Avenue location. 

“There’s nowhere we won’t go – as long as we can fit it,” Goodwill’s Denis Robinson Sr. said about the bus-sized tech center on wheels.

Robinson, senior director of human resources and workforce development, said many rural areas exist throughout the five counties Goodwill covers – Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties in Ohio, as well as Mercer and Lawrence counties in Pennsylvania. Having the ability to take training to those areas will help reach more people, he said.

Goodwill provides customized training based on skill level and career goals from basic computer skills to improving software knowledge to introductory IT certification programs.

Emily McHenry is community engagement and training specialist who works with job skill training. She’ll be part of the Mobile Technical and Instruction Vehicle, or Motive, team for Goodwill.

“I’m looking forward to taking the courses,” said Frank Hunt, who has been working in HR for nearly a week and a half. “I think I’m pretty good with computers but you can always pick up things or learn to do something different.”

Robinson said anyone can register for the training. “Our hope is that new and enhanced digital skills will enable many of these individuals to land solid, rewarding jobs,” he said.

Motive is made possible through a grant from Goodwill International that recognized the area’s disparities with unemployment, especially after Northside Hospital and General Motors Lordstown Complex closed. 

It took about eight months from the time of application to having the vehicle ready for operation. CEO Mark Goloja said one of the biggest obstacles was finding a specialty vehicle to fit Goodwill’s needs. He was able to find a refurbished vehicle the West Virginia State Highway Patrol has used in a driving under the influence program.

Decals and other signage were removed and replaced with Goodwill logos and information. The best part is that it already was painted blue and white, he said.

Besides providing digital training, Motive also will offer vision testing for amblyopia ,commonly known as lazy eye, in children in preschool through seventh grade, said Goloja.

Robinson and Goloja said they have been working to change the stigma that Goodwill Industries only works with people with disabilities. Goodwill provides job skills and digital training, workforce development, employee placement and the radio reading program for people who are visually impaired, among other services. 

“Our goal is to help all people with any type of barriers, whether it’s a disability or employment,” Goloja said.

Robinson added that workforce development and job training services are intended to help people prepare for, find and retain employment. 

The vehicle is equipped with WiFi hotspot and television screens, and Goodwill will soon add laptops and other equipment. If communities have large crowds of people in need of training, Robinson said Motive can travel and bring the necessary digital devices inside to accommodate the participants.

Staff from Warren City Schools and Choffin Career and Technical Center toured the vehicle, exchanging cards with McHenry with the hope that they can partner for future training sessions for kids to have job-ready skills. 

Robinson noted that any displaced workers or people facing unemployment who may not have had opportunities to learn digital skills can find a safe learning environment, either at Goodwill or through the Motive program.

“To apply for unemployment or to file job applications requires some basic digital knowledge,” Robinson said.

To learn more about Motive and Goodwill’s digital career accelerator initiative, call 330 759 7921 or email missionservices@goodwillyoungstown.org

Pictured: Youngstown Area Goodwill Industries’ Emily McHenry, Denis Robinson and Mark Gologa unveiled the agency’s new mobile training program – Mobile Technical and Instructional Vehcile – on Thursday.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.