SOURCE: Goodwill Industries International

April 26, 2005 12:33 ET

Technology Helps Low-Wage Workers Keep Jobs

Three-Year Goodwill Study Yields Significant Results

ROCKVILLE, MD -- (MARKET WIRE) -- April 26, 2005 -- Providing low-wage workers with access to computers at home significantly increases worker retention rates and helps lead to higher wages for those workers, according to the findings of a three-year project conducted by Goodwill Industries under a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Goodwill Technology Opportunity Program (TOP) aimed to build on the job placement services that Goodwill has been providing for more than 100 years, by evaluating a method for keeping workers in their jobs for longer periods of time and helping them advance to higher paying jobs. The program's 124 participants received personal computers in order to increase interaction with Goodwill career counselors and enhance their skills training. Participants with busy schedules and family commitments could go online for training or send e-mail to their counselors at any time of the day. Ninety-three percent remained employed six to 12 months following job placement, and program participants were 1.5 times more likely than the general Goodwill population to remain employed at least six months. In addition, average wages climbed steadily over the course of the program, most likely a result of escalating job responsibilities or advancement to a higher position. Total earnings for participants were higher and grew faster than for Goodwill clients not participating in the TOP program.

"Goodwill is all about helping others help themselves, and we are now even better equipped than before to make good on this vital mission," says George W. Kessinger, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. "In addition to helping our clients find jobs, this technology-based support program pinpoints a way for workers to keep those jobs and, in many cases, to flourish in them as well. The results of the project went well beyond our expectations."

One of the remarkable findings of the study was that simply by having a computer in the home, workers' self-confidence increased, which then boosted their job performance. In other words, the workers' personal growth led to professional growth, instead of the other way around.

The results of the TOP project suggest that post-employment support is as vital to success in the workplace as pre-employment support. Low-wage workers need the maximum amount of resources and tools available not only to sustain employment, but also to increase their opportunities for advancement. "Through this and other retention strategies, Goodwill is creating tools for long-term employment and career advancement that help move low-wage workers toward economic independence," says Kessinger.

The project was undertaken in five local Goodwill agencies in Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Peoria, IL, and Reading, PA. Based on the initial success, Goodwill is exploring opportunities to collaborate with national, state and local entities to replicate the TOP project in other cities across the country.

Contact Information