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Goodwill, Google Collaborate for Job Training in TN

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Tuesday, August 1, 2023   

By Ramona Schindelheim for WorkingNation.
Broadcast version by Danielle Smith for Keystone State News Connection reporting for the WorkingNation-Public News Service Collaboration

It is probably safe to say that when most people think of Goodwill®, they think of the more than 3,300 donation centers and thrift stores spread across the U.S. and Canada. But, the nonprofit is so much more.

In fact, Goodwill may be the best-kept workforce development secret in America, with more than 350,000 people finding a job through Goodwill's career counseling, résumé prep services, and skills training.

"Our entire history is about a mission of helping people flourish in life, helping them thrive. The 'why' for us is helping people reach their potential, often through learning and the power of work," explains Steven C. Preston, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International.

And thanks to a partnership with some of the biggest names in tech, more than 1.5 million people have upgraded their digital and tech skills through the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator® (GDCA), a training program designed in partnership with Google and made possible by funding from

To date, has supported the training program with over $29 million in cash and ad grants and 1,000 Googler volunteers who have taught classes for people employed and served by Goodwill, have helped conduct research, and co-developed resources and tools, explains Google. Fellows - Google employees who specialize in marketing, user experience design, program management and more - also worked with the Goodwill team on a pro bono basis for six months to help research and redesign to work better for job seekers and career advancers.

Partnering to Advance Tech Careers

More than 80% of the people who come to Goodwill for work-related services have a high school diploma or less and range in age from their teens to in their 80s. Most have low-to-moderate income, and some have no income at all.

The Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator prepares job seekers and career advancers for for entry- and mid-level occupations. No degree and no experience required. Some of the learners need to learn keyboarding, English, and math before they can benefit from digital skills training and earn career certificates.

The program meets learners where they are at, offering many levels of hands-on training, from basic digital awareness and navigation through training for Google Career Certificates. Those employer-vetted certificates equip people with job-ready skills for in-demand entry-level careers in fields like data analytics, IT, and, most-recently, cybersecurity.

Interested? Here is What You Need to Know About the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator

We asked Goodwill and Google to answer these essential questions about the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator program, which is hosted on the Coursera platform.

What does it cost?

"Thanks to scholarships and funding from and other partners, digital skills training is available at no cost to learners at most Goodwills."

How much time does it take?

"The time a digital skills training course takes depends of what is being learned. To learn to set up and use email - an essential skill for a job search - may take only an hour or two. Learning to use Google suite may take a few hours over the course of a week. Earning a Google Career Certificate may take three to six months (though some highly motivated and disciplined learners have completed them in a few weeks)."

Is the program in-person or online?

"Many of the people who use Goodwill to build their digital skills begin their learning in-person until they are comfortable enough to learn at their own pace on their own time. The strongest models for training involve a blended approach where Goodwill organizations convene training groups in-person and integrate online learning. Providing additional supports beyond the training setting, such as regular career navigation check-in meetings, helps learners stay on track with training progress."

Once completing the program, do you get an employer-vetted certificate?

"Some learners earn Google Career Certificates through Goodwill. The Google Career Certificates are an industry-recognized credential valued by a wide array of employers. Built by experts at Google and vetted by employers in the program's Employer Consortium, the certificates teach skills employers are looking for. The employer consortium includes over 150 companies including Accenture, Walmart, Verizon, and Google that are looking to hire workers in the certificate fields."

The Power to Change Lives

"It's so important for us to realize that digital skills have become the price of entry for many jobs in our country. Digitization has so infused our workforce that the need for those skills is ubiquitous," says Goodwill CEO Preston.

"Google believes the opportunities created by technology should truly be available to everyone, regardless of their zip code, education level, or background. We're proud to continue our support for Goodwill, advancing our shared commitment to help all Americans access digital skills training in their local communities," says Hector Mujica, head of Economic Opportunity for the Americas for

He tells us, "To date, we've helped over 357,000 people connect with new jobs and increase their economic opportunities by offering programs including the Google Career Certificates. Through our collaboration, we're excited to help more people improve their lives and livelihoods for years to come."

Preston sums the partnership up this way. "I believe strongly in the power of human potential. Helping people tap into that potential is not only transformative to them, but it's transformative to our communities. It's transformative to our culture."

Ramona Schindelheim wrote this article for WorkingNation.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.

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