Seattle Goodwill committed to making future employees primed for work

 
by Andrew Lang, Seattle Goodwill
April 12, 2017
 

Ellena Burke knew she needed to make a change. She had severed relationships and was dealing with a drug and alcohol addiction.

In order to get her life on track, Ellena needed a job and sought out Goodwill for help. After committing to sobriety she joined Goodwill’s Cashiering and Customer Service Program, which helped her develop invaluable soft skills needed to become a productive, successful employee.

“At Seattle Goodwill, I learned how to be assertive without being aggressive and how not to deal with things in a negative manner,” Ellena said. “I gained humility and how to keep my composure.”

Learning how to process adversity in a healthy manner, being assertive without being aggressive, having humility: those are all soft skills, which in today’s business world frequently get passed over in favor of technical skills.

But in all actuality 85 percent of job success comes from having well-developed soft skills, while the remaining 15 percent comes from savvy technical skills. Seventy-five percent of employers rate soft skills as more important than technical skills.

Seattle Goodwill through years of working with the hardest-to-serve communities—such as people suffering from mental illness and those new to the country searching for work—has identified the largest barriers obstructing those looking to find and maintain a job.

Soft skills such as integrity, responsibility, perseverance, work ethic and good communication, to name a few, are essential traits desired in the workforce. Particularly in the entry-level workforce, many job seekers lack these skills, and it’s a major underlying cause of unemployment.

So what does job success look like for those who are unemployed and facing barriers to better economic opportunity?

Success in the workplace is built off three pillars—soft skills, mentoring and guidance and overcoming logistical challenges.

When all three of these pillars are achieved, we consider prospective employees primed for work. At Seattle Goodwill, our programs seek to build our students’ soft skills. We connect students to mentors who can offer guidance, and we also offer resources to help students overcome logistical barriers.

Seattle Goodwill on a daily basis witnesses the impressive personal and professional growth that comes along with getting students primed for work. As part of our advocacy efforts, we have created a five-step action plan showing how you can help contribute to our community and help others become primed for work.

1) Ask what your organization is already doing, and then ask how you can help

Work with your HR professionals if you’re an organization leader to see how they are coping with the lack of entry-level employees being primed for work. See if there are places where you can provide more of the basic soft-skill knowledge to employees. See if you are hiring and training based on strong soft skills. Work with management to support entry-level workers.

2) Actively support the good work of others

Beyond Seattle Goodwill there are organizations such as Seattle Jobs Initiative, Venture, Seattle Colleges and The Prosperity Agenda that are placing an emphasis on training for soft skills and lobbying for more attention to be given to these barriers to employment and success. Find an organization committed to helping people be primed for work and support them.

3) Define what primed for work means at your organization and start measuring it

Promote ways to measure being primed for work. There are questionnaires and assessments that measure confidence, self-esteem and motivation. Lobby for their adoption, so these characteristics become key performance indicators for a company’s health.

4) Raise the issue, and talk about primed for work

Use your voice to increase awareness of the need to reduce the primed for work gap. Talk to you peers and colleagues about the importance of being primed for work.

5) Support legislation

Primed for work doesn’t only mean soft skills. It also means the non-tangible challenges that directly impact an employee’s ability to thrive. Legislation in support of primed for work could mean funding for soft skills training in high school nonprofits and community colleges, making transportation access more affordable, having affordable child care, etc.

Seattle Goodwill is committed to helping those facing barriers become primed for work. Please help us spread the word and share your ideas, thoughts and solutions with us. 


 

Andrew is a Content Specialist for Seattle Goodwill and has a wealth of writing, communication and digital media experience. He loves all things sports related and owns a treasure trove of memorabilia. He also enjoys storytelling, the outdoors and sugar is his kryptonite.

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