Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands unveiled Mission Mobile in a pair of ceremonies this month that the organization says will help employers find workers and people find jobs by overcoming a transportation challenge.
The organization has for years provided employment and career services at Job Connection sites across its 16-county territory. Mission Mobile will make those services more easily available to what Goodwill says is a significant portion of the population that doesn’t have access to transportation.
Palmetto Goodwill has a similar plan.
“Over my nearly 30 years with Goodwill, the needs of jobseekers and businesses has evolved over time,” Goodwill President and CEO Pat Michaels said in an announcement May 4 at the Goodwill store on North Pleasantburg Drive in Greenville. “Goodwill is always looking for ways to adapt and meet those needs. Mission Mobile will allow us to make those services and opportunities more accessible to our neighbors across the state. That’s a good thing.”
The lack of transportation options has long been cited by health and human service experts, employers, and community leaders as a barrier to accessing employment and education, Michaels said.
Mission Mobile is a 30-foot air conditioned, wheelchair-accessible vehicle that offers Job Connection services such as skills assessment, job interviews, training tools and career coaching.
Mission Mobile had scheduled appearances and job fairs into July. The services are free, both to the job seekers and the companies and organizations looking for employees.
“So the bus goes to those locations — and the location could be a business, it could be a community center, it could be a church, whoever wants to partner with us,” said Brock Koonce, marketing and public relations manager for Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands. “Lots of nonprofits are there that may not provide career services, like resume building, skills training, interviewing skills. What this bus does is offer opportunities, in line with businesses, to provide onsite interviews. And if the businesses don’t have the capacity to do onboarding, we can also do that on the bus.”
Mission Mobile has 10 workstations and is equipped with Wi-Fi, printers and other tools that would be found in a brick-and-mortar employment offices, including employment specialists to walk companies and candidates through the process.
Koonce said the organization works with employers throughout the territory dealing with the challenges of a shrinking labor pool.
“So there is a desperate need out there for companies that are looking for people,” he said.
“One of the big reasons for the bus was, obviously there are many transportation deserts around the Upstate and Midlands where individuals or households either don’t have a car or they don’t have good access to the bus line,” Koonce said. “So the idea is that we take the Job Connection to them, to their neighborhood, or to businesses that are close to them.”
Many of the would-be workers are looking for any kind of work, he said, but many of them have already launched themselves into the working world and come back ready to reach higher.
“Some of them come in looking for any job but maybe later they come in looking for a better job,” he said. “We want to channel them through so that they become workers that can find their career. We can help find everything from smaller jobs that can get you on your feet right now, or all the way through a career for tomorrow.”
Koonce said Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands is the first in the state to put a bus on the road, but the Lowcountry’s Palmetto Goodwill has acquired a bus that is being upfitted for the same kind of purpose — to take their services on the road.