Goodwill has partnered with Workforce Southwest Washington to offer another option for young adults in Cowlitz County to get a GED and get workforce services, including resume help and mock interviews.
An expanded workforce services program called “Next” will help people ages 16 to 24 who are not in school and are looking for career and employment services or wanting to complete their high school equivalency and obtain a GED.
Workforce Southwest Washington, a nonprofit which oversees the public workforce system in Cowlitz County, is funding the initiative.
“Next ensures young adults are prepared for academic and career success and have skills to fill local workforce needs in the region’s high-growth and in-demand sectors of healthcare, manufacturing, construction and technology,” Workforce Southwest Washington CEO Kevin Perkey said in a press release. “Goodwill has been a partner for many years. They have a record of meeting community needs and we’re excited to have them providing these services to our next generation.”
According to the press release, a Measure of America study shows the “youth disconnection rate” for young adults in Cowlitz County is 16%, higher than the state’s 10.8% and the national 11.2%. Disconnected youth are young people who are not in school and not working.
The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to push that number even higher, the press release said. It will also exacerbate existing inequalities and “young people of color with low income will be hit the hardest,” the press release said.
Bill Marcum, CEO of the Kelso-Longview Chamber of Commerce, said in the press release that with baby boomers retiring from the workforce, “these services at Goodwill are helping our young adults not fall through the cracks and get additional education and skills that can help them gain employment while at the same time giving local businesses a resource to fill jobs.”
“It’s a great program that fills the social needs of individuals and the economic needs of local businesses,” he added.
For now, services are virtual. Along with GED preparation and resume help, youth can get soft skills development like time management and communication, industry-recognized credentials, case management, job search support, work experiences and internships, job preparation workshops and classes, funding for job training for in-demand jobs, connections to housing, childcare, transportation, food assistance and other support services and help with filing an initial Unemployment Insurance claim.
The press release noted that Goodwill cannot file a claim for anyone, determine eligibility or assist with already-filed claims. Staff and services are available online, through email and virtual meetings, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.