Yenisha Holloway from East Flatbush sat at a desk in front of computer and waited patiently for Google and Goodwill officials and U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries to finish the celebration of a successful public/private partnership that offers computer tech and code training to those unemployed and underemployed.
Holloway was one of about 40 residents on the third floor job training classroom of the Goodwill Industries of Greater NY and Northern NJ office at 25 Elm Street in Downtown Brooklyn hoping to embark on a career path.
“I came here yesterday [to the career center]. They are supposed to be helping me with a career so I’m here to see what they have to offer,” said Holloway, a single mother in her 20’s with two children, seven and five month old.
The program that Google funded through a three-year grant with Goodwill NYNJ, which in turn partnered with the city’s Human Resources Administration thus far exceeded all expectations. The program puts young adults and other local residents who are unemployed or underemployed in the classroom where they learn digital best practices to succeed in the 21st century economy.
Through the grant, Goodwill NYNJ and partners provided in the first year information, assessment, digital training to 10,249 people (377% of the goal set by Google) and placed 1,217 individuals in jobs using the digital skills they gained.
“The Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator reigns as a shining example of the positive outcomes that can exist when businesses, non-profits and elected officials come together to equip those in our community facing barriers to employment with the tools needed to excel in the 21st century economy,” said Jeffries. “Goodwill NYNJ, Google and all involved are to be commended for their essential efforts in this critical partnership.”
The program comes as a 2017 Brookings Report titled Digitalization and the American Workforce found that jobs of all types now require more digital skills. Additionally, more digital skills seem to lead to higher pay. The report examined roughly 15 years’ worth of survey data on the knowledge, skills, tools, technology, education, and training required in more than 500 occupations, covering 90 percent of the U.S. workforce.
“It’s critical that we prepare New Yorkers for the workforce of the future and that means increasing access to digital skills. As the job sector continues to diversify and rely on a wide range of skills, the strength of our local economy depends on our ability to provide opportunities for everyone to grow and thrive,” said Carley Graham Garcia, Head of External Affairs for Google NYC.
“It’s programs like Goodwill’s Digital Career Accelerator that helps bridge the opportunity gap and we’re thrilled to be working alongside Goodwill NYNJ to continue bringing hands-on training to communities across the Greater NY and Northern NJ region,” she added.
Goodwill NYNJ President and CEO Katy Gaul-Stigge said part of the non-profit’s mission is to help people find work and currently, all job sectors are more integrated and require workers in who can combine multiple skills, including digital skills. In 2017, Goodwill NYNJ hired or developed job options for 4,000 people, including more than 1,300 individuals with disabilities.
“Our vision of a world with no barriers and opportunities for all means that we have a firm commitment to providing digital skills training and employment services for individuals with disabilities and other barriers to employment. Employers are eager for a diverse well-trained staff,” she said.
But it was the determined look of Holloway, who graduated from Erasmus Hall High School, that told the real story of how one of the world’s largest companies is bringing it full circle of helping connect residents to jobs of the future.
“I’ve never done work like this with a computer before, but if I need to learn more I’m willing to learn,” she said.