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Goodwill Goodskills Workforce Development: Collaborating with Community Resources

If you are dealing with an aging workforce and a looming retirement cliff on the horizon, now is the time to be thinking of a way to build and sustain your workforce. For some WNY manufacturers, a partnership with the Goodskills Program has the potential to address that need by collaborating with manufacturers to develop workforce initiatives that recognize and recruit available talent and provide baseline training and job placement. Screenshot 2023-09-19 141658

The Goodskills Career Builder Program is open to any job seekers age 18 and over with a high school diploma or GED in Erie, Niagara, and Chautauqua Counties. The program helps individuals get training and placement in higher-wage positions.

The program addresses four target areas to better facilitate the job search for those who wish to find a higher-wage position and also to assist with manufacturing workforce development/retention strategies: 

  • Rebrand manufacturing image
  • Provide hands-on experience
  • Provide prepared candidates for manufacturers to hire
  • Optimize manufacturing partnerships with appropriate collaboration and cooperation

Rebrand Manufacturing Image

Bryan Boleratz, the Goodskills Outreach Liaison for Chautauqua County, explained that the first step is to erase old stereotypes about manufacturing jobs and facilities. Participants are shown that today’s manufacturing facilities are no longer dark, dirty, or dangerous - a perception that stems from an image of 20th-century manufacturing plants. Today’s facilities are much brighter, cleaner, and more efficient than the manufacturing floors of years past. This rebranding of the manufacturing industry as a whole is an important concept to introduce to potential job recruits.

Program participants are taken on tours of factories that are close to the Good Skills classroom location. They also have the opportunity to shadow workers at these facilities. 

Provide Hands-On Experience

During the Goodskills program, Weeks 2 and 3 provide both classroom instruction and on-site experiential training with certain manufacturers. This allows program participants to gain experience with the variety of manufacturing jobs available. It will also provide a sense of what they like/don’t like in both the specific positions and the overall work environment. 

Program participants collaborate to create a score for each facility, giving them a reference point when the program ends and the job fair is held.  

Provide Prepared Workers

Manufacturers not only receive applications from strong applicants, but they also get an applicant who is certified and knows what to expect both from the job and the work environment

Participants are given an opportunity at some facilities to complete work on the floor and get a sense of what the job will entail. A Goodskills Supervisor is on-site with the program participants, working with the facility’s supervisor to ensure all safety measures are upheld and work is completed according to specifications.

These candidates also gain experience in soft skills they may not have had prior to the program, including: 

What Participants Get Out of the Program:

  • Practice for interviews (both in-person and virtual)
  • Guidance on Effective Decision-Making
  • Soft Skills training: Conflict Resolution, Time Management, Communication, Working Together on a Diverse Team
  • Idea of Potential Career Paths with Local Manufacturers
  • Certifications: Forklift, OSHA 10, Cyber Security Training
  • Shop Math Experience through JCC Course (opportunity to complete this for college credit as well)
  • Resume Creation/Updating
  • Graduation Ceremony with Certificate
  • Career Coach Assistance for 3 years Post-Graduation
  • Job Fair with Local Manufacturers following Graduation
  • $500 in tuition upon completion
  • Experience with Job Interviews: Individuals who regularly conduct interviews are invited in from the community to handle in-person mock interviews. Participants are also prepped for virtual interviews, recognizing that many companies schedule at least the initial interview this way. 
  • Decision-Making: During the course of the four-week training, participants discuss the pros and cons of working at different locations, weighing the salary versus other considerations like travel time and PTO - which would factor into work-life balance. 
  • Communication: They are expected to be engaged during the interactive classroom sessions and avoid distractions.
  • Time Management: The program requires participants to show up on time and be prepared for the day’s classes and on-site visits. 
  • Conflict Resolution and Working Together on a Diverse Team: The team dynamics in businesses across industries is changing in today’s society. Preparing individuals to be effective in communicating with different personalities and those with various strengths is beneficial across the board. 

This combination of skills testing creates another level of preparedness and allows the program to act as a first level of screening for the manufacturers, providing applicants who already show desirable qualities. 

The Career Coach is a helpful resource as well - for both the employer and the employee. Sometimes issues can be identified and addressed in a timely manner to avoid disciplinary measures or termination. 

Optimize Manufacturing Partnerships 

Screenshot 2023-09-19 141800The Goodskills program works best with partnerships with local manufacturers. However, recognizing the scope of the situation with worker shortages and the capacity needed to provide training opportunities on the floor, Goodskills makes every effort to rotate the manufacturers they rely on for tours and experiential training. 

The program also strives to include facilities that are in close proximity to where participants in that particular cohort live, thereby increasing the odds of a successful pairing between applicant and manufacturer. 

Boleratz noted that the Goodskills Program is not looking to replace temp agencies that serve the area’s manufacturers. The program's mission is to provide knowledge and experience to prepare workers for the manufacturing industry and increase the chance of both workers and employers being satisfied with the hire so the position stays filled. 


Local Success with Goodskills Training and Manufacturing Workforce Development

Area residents are finding higher-wage jobs, thanks to the Goodskills Career Builder Program. In addition, partnerships with local manufacturers mean a solution to their ongoing workforce development, recruitment, and retention needs. 

The Goodskills Career Builder Program is taking advantage of resources available for underemployed workers and filling a need in the manufacturing industry. 

Learn More About Business in Chautauqua County

Are you interested in more information about business opportunities in the WNY Region? Consider reading this white paper before you go. Reach out to us to start planning your next climate/cleantech business venture!


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