Goodwill assisting employees displaced by COVID-19 get work

Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona has reopened its walk-in career centers to help job seekers displaced by COVID-19 who do not have access to a computer or the internet.

Anyone with a computer can also take advantage of the charity’s no-cost computer training, job placement and other career services at MyCareerAdvisor.com.

The decision to reopen the centers came last week after Gov. Doug Ducey included the nonprofit in the list of essential businesses and secured $2 million in funding to keep 400 workers employed and services available for those in need.

“We have seen the unemployment rate skyrocket over the last few weeks and people are being greatly impacted by everything going on with the coronavirus,” said Courtney Nelson, vice president of marketing and communications for Goodwill. “Businesses are closing down, hours are being cut, pay is being cut. 

“So we’re seeing people more than ever needing services to connect with hiring companies and getting the resources they need in order to be prepared to get a new job and be back on their feet.”  

On Monday, Goodwill also reopened 21 of its 90 stores across the state to continue to bring in revenue to pay for its career services programs. All stores are continuing to receive donations.

Focus on immediate work and transition to higher paying jobs 

Last week, the organization received more than 500 calls from people seeking help. One hundred were sent to employers who are hiring, Nelson said.

Many callers just need help filing unemployment claims.

With unemployment offices in the state strained by large numbers of claims, Goodwill offers another avenue to help get claims filed, she said. 

More than 95,000 people filed for unemployment last week alone, according to the state Department of Economic Security. In the first week of January, before the coronavirus took hold, there were only 3,132 claims.  

Goodwill, which operates on a mission of “ending poverty through the power of work,” is  taking several approaches to get them back to work, Nelson said. 

Most want immediate work. They are being sent to grocery stores, distribution centers, manufacturing centers, pharmacies and other essential businesses that are hiring heavily right now. 

But Goodwill also is working to help displaced workers up their skills to move into higher demand positions that require technical skills, she said. 

Getting displaced workers computer proficient, certified in IT

Last year, the agency launched the MyCareerAdvisor.com to reach a wider audience and offer training and services online. 

At that time, a goal was to help minimum wage workers transition to higher wage jobs, Nelson said. 

“Unemployment was at an all-time low and we knew that there were employers in our market that had a higher demand for technology skills so we wanted to prepare our workforce for the jobs that were coming in the future,” Nelson said. 

Users of MyCareerAdvisor.com can learn basic computer skills, become proficient in programs like Microsoft Office and Excel, and take courses in and become certified in information technology (IT).

All are free and available online or at the career centers.

Job seekers from all income levels welcome  

Individuals from all backgrounds can use the services, Nelson said. It’s not just for those on limited incomes.

“We’re seeing all levels and what has happened is some people are experiencing layoffs for the very first time,” she said. “They may have been employed at a company for 30 years and because of current circumstances they find themselves unemployed and they just don’t know where to look, or even how to file for unemployment right now.” 

Career centers in four locations:

The organization reopened four centers for anyone who needs help searching for a job or applying for unemployment:

-16th St. & Indian School Career Center

4005 N. 16th St., Phoenix, 85016

Tue-Thur: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

-67th Ave. & Peoria Career Center

6750 W. Peoria Ave., Peoria, 85345

Tue-Thur: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

-51st Ave. & Van Buren Career Center

515 N. 51st Ave., Phoenix, 85043

Mon-Fri: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

-Yuma Career Center

3097 S. 8th Ave., Yuma, 85364

Tue-Thur: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Employment resources online and at the career centers include:

  • Information and assistance with filing for unemployment and other resources
  • Connections with local hiring companies
  • Resume and interviewing help
  • Computer skill and development classes

Offering hope and sanitized facilities  

All career centers and stores are being monitored to comply with CDC guidelines to protect clients and customers, Nelson said. Visitors are spaced six feet apart. Work stations are sanitized after every use. 

“This is an unprecedented time, and at Goodwill we’re always helping people to find work and get connected with hiring employers and get the training they need but it’s also about providing hope,” Nelson said. “If someone’s coming into our career center, they sometimes feel lost. They don’t know where to start they don’t know how they are going to pay their bills, they don’t know how they’re going to put food on their table.  

“After working with a career navigator, they can walk away with confidence that often helps them land the job.” For job seekers needing immediate job assistance, go online to MyCareerAdvisor.com or call 602-535-4444.

Victoria Harker

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