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This Should be a Famous Quote

Posted by Julie Barber on July 7, 2017

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Goodwill Workforce Training programsSeveral years ago during a meeting with different members of our various business units, we discussed our training programs. Our then vice president of Culinary and Custodial Services, summed up the discussion we were having and said, “We teach people how to work, and then we give them skills.”

The simple truth of this struck me and the quote has stayed with me over the years. So much so, that I use it almost every time I give a tour at one of our facilities. I have probably said it enough times that I should start paying our former vice president royalties. But what does this mean? Let me explain.

In almost every training program we provide, we offer “Work and Life skills” training as a component. It’s the “how to work” portion of what we do. They include the basic expectations few people mention and many assume everyone knows, but they don’t.

In almost every training program Goodwill provides, we offer “Work and Life skills” training as a component. It’s the “how to work” portion of what we do.For example:

  • “You need to come to work every day you are scheduled, on time, including returning from lunch and breaks.”
  • “You may have to stand for the full shift and this could be 8 hours.”
  • “You need to practice proper personal hygiene, including appropriate clothing for the job.”
  • “There are going to be parts of the job you don’t care for, you will be expected to do them anyway.”
  • Work and life skills go much further than this; they are also the relational aspect of the job.
  • “How do I appropriately talk to my supervisor, even if I am upset?”
  • “How do I get along with my co-workers?” The understanding that I am responsible for my actions and how I do my job and my attitude has an effect on the rest of the team and the overall results.
  • “How do I, at least for a time, set aside some of my worries from outside of work, to focus on work?”

By the way, this isn’t unique to the people we serve, really it starts touching on self-awareness and emotional intelligence on which books a have been written and courses taught. Oh yeah, and it doesn’t end at the classroom door. Our great instructors lay the ground work, but our mentors, coaches, supervisors, line leads, managers, case workers, and trainers continue to directly and indirectly work on these work and life skills.

So there you have it, “We teach people how to work, and then we give them skills.”

Oh, I should add for all of you who have asked, and it has been many, “Wow, can you teach my employees that?” I recently found out the answer to this question is “yes”. Of course there is more to it than that, but if you are interested give me a call (414) 847-4889  or send me an email at

Written by Julie Barber

Although Julie currently works as a Senior Account Manager in our manufacturing division, she began her career with Goodwill as a supervisor of the day program in Cudahy and she has a degree in Educational Studies with an Emphasis on Counseling from UWM. She spent 12 years working in a variety of different Human Services positions and locations, eventually coming to James O. Wright Center for Work and Training to work in production and become a Cell Manager. From there she decided to try her hand outside of Goodwill and did so for the next three years and learned a lot. Realizing Goodwill was still a great place to work she returned in 2010 and she has worked in Racine doing customer service and inventory management and now in her current position. She likes to tell people that Goodwill recycles and she am just a good example of how well that works.
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Mission Support Center
Tel: (414) 847-4200

James O. Wright Center forWork & Training
Tel: (414) 353-6400

Metropolitan Chicago -
Tel: (312) 994-1440