Goodwill's new career center offers training for Northern Berkshire job seekers

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NORTH ADAMS — Dust off that resume.

Goodwill Industries of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont has opened a new career center inside its State Street store in North Adams.

The center, tucked in a small, quiet room inside the store, will offer a wide array of services ranging from resume writing to lessons on choosing interview-appropriate clothing.

"I've been wanting to have this space for the past six years since I joined the organization, because I felt that we really needed to bring our mission services to North County," said Kathy Anker, Goodwill's director of mission services.

The North Adams Career Center's grand opening was celebrated Wednesday with a gathering of local officials and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The center will offer walk-in services from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays and from 1 to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays with the aim of providing guidance to those seeking employment.

The training includes resume writing, applying for jobs online, interview coaching and advice on presentation.

On the first full week of every month, the center will also host a three-day "employability" workshop Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. These programs are aimed at providing participants with the skill set necessary to keep a job once they land one.

Those skills include punctuality, creativity and problem-solving.

"So many people often don't understand the importance of communicating properly, understanding what motivates them, how to be dependable. If they weren't taught at home — and unfortunately many people aren't — they need to get it someplace else," Anker said.

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Those who complete the course will receive a certification and be connected with a Goodwill employee for one-on-one help in locating a job.

The Goodwill location in Pittsfield already offers similar programs, but Anker said it was important that the services be brought to North Adams as well, especially given the challenges many face with transportation.

"We have a large training center and donation center in Pittsfield where all our programming happens, but it's very difficult, because of the transportation in this county, for people to get back and forth," Anker said. "In order to really deliver services, you can't just say, `Well I'm here.' You have to say, `I'm coming to where you are.'"

The renovation of the career center was funded with assistance from the Northern Berkshire United Way.

"We're so happy to support Goodwill ... they do a lot of great work in this community helping individuals get employability skills, which leads to job retention and greater financial stability outcomes," said Christa Collier, executive director of the Northern Berkshire United Way.

North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard welcomed the opening of the career center.

"It's clear that this center is going to provide resources to people who need them — people who are looking to secure and retain jobs," Bernard said.

Bernard argued that developing the skills that Goodwill is looking to give people are "more important than ever."

"We know that we are seeing a tightening in a competitive job market here," Bernard said, noting that unemployment is down locally and there are more people in the labor force. "These are all good things, and we want to make sure that we're able to hire locally and able to coach and support people to stand out to employers."

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.


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