Goodwill helps reboot careers with Digital Literacy Program

Vivian Rangel had worked as a processor and sales associate at Goodwill for more than five years when she was offered a chance for a promotion to lead sales associate.

But Rangel knew she lacked a key skill needed for the position.

“I never touched a computer in my life,” she recalls. “But the manager told me, ‘Goodwill will help you. They
have free programs to give you training.’”

In May, Rangel, who works at a Goodwill store in Clarksville, signed up for and completed several Digital Literacy classes from the nearby Goodwill Career Solutions Center. Among its many employment services, Goodwill offers hands-on Digital Literacy courses under the umbrella of its Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator program. The program is funded by a grant from Google as well as through the generosity of Goodwill donors and shoppers.

Classes include Computer Basics training covering online job search, resume-writing and job application skills; Productivity Tools training in Microsoft Office, Google’s G-suite, Gmail, Drive and Calendar; and the Google IT Support Professional Certificate, a six-month course for people entering the information technology industry. All digital literacy classes are free-of-charge and open to the public, although participation in the IT program is awarded via competitive scholarship.

The classes helped Rangel feel comfortable using the office computer at her Goodwill store for numerous managerial tasks, such as filling out safety reports, ordering truckloads of merchandise and doing Internet searches to help determine pricing for unusual items.

“By the time I got through with those classes, I had the knowledge I needed,” she says. “It basically helped me with everything I do here.”

The Goodwill Career Solutions Center at 2955 S. Church St. in Murfreesboro regularly offers training. Upcoming programs include a Digital Literacy class set for and 9 a.m.-noon on Thursday, Feb. 13.

Becky Currier, Goodwill’s manager of training and certification programs, said a lack of digital skills remains a common barrier to employment for many Tennesseans struggling to find a job or to advance in careers. About 16 percent of U.S. adults are not digitally literate, according to a 2018 International Assessment of Adult Competencies report. But a 2016 study by the Brookings Institution found that 71 percent of jobs required either high or medium digital skills.

Currier said many of those who seek out Goodwill’s assistance with digital literacy are seniors who formerly worked in non-technical positions or professionals who have been sidelined as their fields become increasingly computer-dependent.

“The neatest thing we see during our classes are these incredible ‘Ah-hah!’ moments that happen with students,” Currier said. “It’s cool when you see somebody who has learned to master a skill they thought they could never learn. It helps them gain confidence, and then when they go on job interviews they are able to speak more confidently about their digital literacy skills with hiring managers.”

To learn more about Goodwill Career Solutions’s free Digital Literacy training or to register for a class near you, visit giveit2goodwill.org/services/ or call (615) 346-1818.

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