October 3, 2022Mock Goodwill retail store provides stress-free learning environment for individuals with disabilities to train and prepare for today’s jobs
SANTA ANA, CALIF. – September 28, 2022 – Goodwill of Orange County has opened its all-new Training Center for Success, a customized work simulation environment designed to provide hands-on, process-based training, retraining and upskill training to individuals facing barriers to employment.
The 665 square-foot Training Center, located inside the organization’s corporate campus in Santa Ana, is a scaled-down replica of a Goodwill store and is the latest innovative program to further Goodwill’s core mission to provide people with pathways to sustainable jobs.
The Training Center for Success, driven by sky-high, post-pandemic unemployment numbers for individuals with disabilities, was designed to ensure the long-term employment success of individuals served through Goodwill’s workforce development programs, including individuals with physical and developmental disabilities, veterans, people with mental health diagnosis, and more. The center provides a controlled, safe and stress-free learning environment for individuals to discover and grow to their highest capabilities and potential.
“The Training Center for Success gives us an incredible opportunity to enhance and strengthen the training we provide for the individuals we serve and employ in our retail locations,” said Nicole Suydam, President and CEO, Goodwill of Orange County. “Our hope is that this model will prove successful for the retail industry and will then be replicated for other high-need industries in Orange County to help even more individuals on their pathways to sustainable careers.”
The center is outfitted with a complete retail floor, including display racks, clothing rounds, a dressing room, window display, and a cashier station with a working cash register. It also includes a back-of-house donation processing and shelving area and a space to build shelving units and display racks.
The development of the simulation store enables Goodwill to dramatically augment and improve its job training and preparation programs and to better equip individuals with both the technical and soft skills needed to successfully obtain and maintain employment in a variety of positions at Goodwill retail locations throughout Orange County. Program participants will learn the cash register, donation processing, merchandising, customer service scenario and practice, and much more.
Goodwill’s training process has historically taken place onsite at its various thrift store locations, which presented a number of challenges for both neuro-typical employees and individuals with disabilities who may struggle to learn in a fast-paced, on-the-job environment with real customers. The Training Center provides all individuals with an opportunity to learn the needed skills in a systematic, process-oriented fashion to help them successfully master and transition these skills to the workplace.
The development of the Training Center also provides an opportunity to deliver additional training to existing employees, strengthen their skills in existing roles (retraining) and expanding their skill set to different positions with additional responsibilities (upskill training). It also provides Goodwill with an avenue to introduce, test and train staff on new systems and processes prior to implementation in multiple retail stores.
As Goodwill looks to the future and to expanding its workforce development programming and impact, the Training Center provides an opportunity to strengthen and expand the depth and scope of training opportunities available for businesses and other community-based organizations serving similar populations. Goodwill aims to develop a program model, curriculum and simulation center that can be utilized to teach a wide range of skills outside of retail.
More than $120,000 in funding was raised in 2021 to bring the Training Center to life and construction was completed over a six-month period beginning in February 2022.
The first Training Center for Success class is slated to begin in October.
About Goodwill of Orange County
Goodwill of Orange County helps people who are facing barriers find and keep jobs, which provides purpose, pride and dignity. Since its inception in 1924, Goodwill has supported hundreds of thousands of individuals through its Workforce Development, Disabilities Services and Veteran Services programs. As a prominent social enterprise, the nonprofit operates a collection of 23 secondhand retail venues throughout Orange County, including five OC Goodwill Boutiques and its e-commerce platform ShopGoodwill.com, to support these life-changing programs and services, and continues to play a leading role in county sustainability practices and waste diversion. When you shop or donate to Goodwill of Orange County, it is Good for you. Good for the community. Good for the planet. To learn more about Goodwill of Orange County, visit ocgoodwill.org.