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May 10, 2011 | last updated December 1, 2011 1:03 pm
Portlandbiz

Goodwill's new job skills program graduates six

On Friday, Goodwill Industries of Northern New England will graduate its first class in a pilot program to train refugees and immigrants in work force skills.

Six people will graduate from Goodwill's first TeachME (Teach Employment and Career Help Maine) job training program, a new pilot program for refugees and immigrants in greater Portland that offers job training for individuals seeking employment in their new place of residence, according to a press release from Goodwill. The program offers training for interviews, filling out job applications and professionalism, as well as a hands-on and practical training component in the retail and custodial industries.

The six participants graduating this Friday received job-specific training in the retail industry and spent six weeks training at the Goodwill store in South Portland, in addition to classroom learning time. Participants gained skills in customer service, health and safety, and store operations, including handling donations and operating the point-of-sale register system. Graduates will receive a certificate listing their skills and competencies.

Following graduation, the graduates will begin searching for full-time work, with help from Goodwill Workforce Solutions, Michelle Smith, communications manager for Goodwill's philanthropy and public affairs department, told Mainebiz. Some have chosen to apply to Goodwill, while some are pursuing other opportunities. A business developer for Goodwill has reached out to area retailers' human resources departments to alert them to the graduates' skills.

Participants in the program were referred by a number of state and local agencies, including the Maine Department of Labor, the city of Portland Refugee and Immigrant Services Office and Catholic Charities. Participant countries of origin include the Dominican Republic, Burundi, Congo, El Salvador, Afghanistan, and Rwanda. Participants in the custodial training will begin training this month.

Funding for the TeachME pilot program is provided by Coastal Counties Workforce Inc., one of Maine's local Workforce Investment Boards. The funding amount was not available by press time.

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