One-on-one with Steve Preston, CEO of Goodwill Industries

“We’re going to see a very different economy going forward, and it will be critical to make sure we can empower people to access these better jobs,” Steve Preston, CEO of Goodwill Industries, told Axios.

Why is this important: Today’s job mismatch isn’t just about COVID and UI fears. Steve Preston would know – as CEO of Goodwill Industries, which operates more than 650 career centers across the country, he has been on the front lines of getting people back to work.

Inventory: Labor demands were evolving – in more digital and skilled ways – even before the pandemic struck.

  • COVID has boosted this change.

The labor needs of businesses are different now. “I think it’s something we’re not talking about right now because we feel this big imbalance,” Preston said.

  • “The change will continue – and existing jobs will require even more skills now,” he adds.

Between the lines: Goodwill Career Centers focus on digital skills training. In partnership with Google, for example, it offers a five-level program starting with the basics of computers, through to programming.

To note : The private sector should actively participate in upgrading the skills of the workforce, as the partnership with Google shows, according to Preston.

  • ” There is not just that [Google] helps us fund programs. They give us a program, help us understand what people need, and they’ve hired people from our program, ”he says.

Employers should also expand definitions of who is qualified for certain jobs – some companies require a degree or certificate for jobs that don’t really need one, he says.

  • The widening of the net also applies to the inclusion of people formerly incarcerated for jobs, he notes. Goodwill trains – and also hires – people who have gone through the criminal justice system.

The bottom line: The current transformation of jobs is not just a problem for the unemployed.

  • “It affects who we become as a country… It affects our global competitiveness because a well-equipped workforce, with the right skills, will help us be competitive in a global economy. “
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