“Now hiring” is a sign that’s found on door-after-door in Horry County, and yet there are still people who want jobs and can’t find work.
Palmetto Goodwill is assisting Horry-Georgetown Technical College in its efforts to put these two groups together, easing some of the problems of both, according to Rick Shelley, Goodwill’s director of Workforce Development.
Shelley says there are six areas that HGTC is working on to prepare people for employment. Four of them are electrical assistant, plumbing assistant, certified nursing assistant and construction/carpenter. The other two areas are where Goodwill is supplementing Tech’s efforts.
The Goodwill agency is offering classes for people who want to work in the hospitality and culinary areas. They call their programs Hospitality Kick-Start and Culinary Kick-Start, both offer two-week classes that prepare people to join the workforce.
Goodwill graduated its most recent hospitality class two weeks ago.
Shelley said HGTC got involved in these shorter-than-normal classes after being nudged by the City of Myrtle Beach.
“They said they went to Tech to point out that they were seeing a lot of people unemployed still standing on street corners on various locations around town, yet at the same time they were struggling to find many employees. There seemed to be a disconnect,” Shelley said.
On the first day of training, kick-start students gather in the Carolina Forest Goodwill office where they learn soft skills like getting to work early and not missing work when people are counting on them.
On the first day of culinary training, students learn what it takes to get and keep a job. They also learn important skills about sanitation and how to handle food properly, both skills are required in every food service business, but not everybody serving food has to have them.
After the first day, participants spend four days on-site training at a facility that serves food. For about 18 months that training was done at the Shepherd’s Table in Conway, but it is now being done at the Community Kitchen in Myrtle Beach.
During the second week, participants complete an apprenticeship, some of them at high-end restaurants. They started at the Carolina Forest Olive Garden for about six months, but later worked with Oceana Resorts and some Brittain Resorts & Hotels. Those two companies offer everything from fine dining to snack shop/grill types of businesses, according to the Goodwill workforce development director.
“The idea is they’re going to be prepared for a job and, in some cases, they have a job within that two-week experience,” Shelley said.
Also, he said, ”It’s an opportunity for the businesses to see the applicants without having to pay them.”
Before the participants get their certificates signifying their accomplishments, they go back to Goodwill where they receive help bringing their resumes up-to-date and completing their job applications.
Shelley said 99 percent of the people who go through the program are unemployed, but a few are underemployed and seeking advancement.
Graduations are celebrated at the Goodwill offices with friends and family members invited, along with some of the trainers who have been involved with the participants.
Each is given a voucher to shop at Goodwill to make sure they have the proper clothes to start a job. Culinary workers are given money for new shoes, not from Goodwill, but they can get Goodwill clothes.
The culinary program is also being offered through Georgetown’s Goodwill.
Shelley says the hospitality kick-start is more intense as far as the classroom setting. Again, they get soft skills training while emphasizing that landing a job in this field is not hard, but keeping a job or advancing in the job requires some skills.
For the hospitality training, they spend a week going through the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s training book.
“So, it’s a nationally-recognized credential,” Shelley said.
Again, they work on resumes and job applications.
Interns can land jobs in housekeeping, maintenance and laundry or as concierges or bell people.
Oceana Resorts and Hilton Grand Vacations have been helping in the hospitality training, and Shelley points out that Oceana has offered jobs to most of the people sent to them by Goodwill.
“It reflects the need there is for this particular career path in the area. A lot of these businesses are desperate for good help,” he said.
These participants are actually enrolled in HGTC and with Goodwill, and successful completion of the program brings two diplomas, one from each group.
Goodwill works hard to bring people to a successful completion of their programs, even working with Coast RTA to provide transportation for those who don’t have it.
At some point, representatives of SC Works offer a presentation on The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, a federal program designed to help people get jobs, including youth and people with significant barriers.
Shelley said HGTC officials tapped the local Goodwill for help with these programs because they knew that Goodwill was already offering similar programs in Charleston.
With its most recent graduation, Shelley estimates that more than 50 people have completed these career-training programs in about 15 months.
The Palmetto Goodwill office is located at 2164 Oakheart Road in Carolina Forest. People can also call (843) 790-9461 to ask about the training programs.
Applications are also found online at Goodwill and HGTC websites. The application is short and takes only a few minutes, Shelley said.
They do background checks, but Shelley says, so far that hasn’t disqualified anyone. They also talk about barriers.
Shelley says barriers to employment for some Horryites run the gamut from a lack of transportation or a lack of suitable care for their children all the way to just not knowing about the programs.
“You know the biggest barrier that we find now is addiction. That’s just where we are in our society now…,” he said.
Although he realizes that overcoming addiction is difficult, he says, in some cases they will refer people to support services because they won’t be job ready unless they’ve gone through some type of recovery.
Goodwill is working now to set up culinary classes in January and February and a hospitality class in March. They prefer about six students in the culinary training and about nine in the hospitality instruction.
There have been times when they’ve had to ask potential students to wait until another class is formed, but that doesn’t happen often, Shelley said. It’s also happening less in the culinary program now that they place their students at the Community Kitchen where there is a larger kitchen than at the Shepherd’s Table.
Shelley said Goodwill is able to fund these classes through sales at the Goodwill stores because they fit right in with Goodwill’s mission.
“Helping people to achieve their full potential through the dignity and power of work,” is Goodwill’s mission, according to Shelley.
“That’s why we come to work everyday, have stores around the community and have people working there to provide this kind of service to the community,” he said.