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US Unemployment Fuels Demand for Job Training


The number of Americans losing jobs is growing as more companies lay off workers amid the economic downturn. As demand for jobs increases so too does the need for more training programs that could allow people to compete in a bleak environment.

One program, run by Goodwill Industries in Arlington, Virginia, prepares people for careers as bank professionals. Students are enrolled in a six-week job training program and getting hands-on training for entry level bank teller positions. They are learning skills at a simulated bank branch, set up in a classroom.

Miriam Zainab, a trainee from Pakistan who has a college degree, says "I needed someone who could polish my skills. So when I came to Goodwill, I built up my confidence level, and they also polished my abilities and skills."

Despite massive layoffs in the financial services field, analysts say banks are still hiring tellers to provide customer service and sell their products.

Trainer David Amoroso says, unlike past years, his students have to be more prepared when searching for jobs. He found that Goodwill needs to continue to build the interviewing skills and recommends that the students have to do more research on the banks and sell themselves to be competitive. He says, "I think that it is important to put what your expectations are. For example, if you expect to make $13 an hour, saying that you would be willing to make $10 an hour just in order to get the interview -- it won't serve you."

In the last four years, Goodwill has trained more than 200 people for banking jobs, with high placement rates. Colleen Paletta, Goodwill's Vice President of Training and Employment Services, explains that today's economic climate makes its services much more important. “More people will be continuing to look for work and will continue to look for more training to make them competitive in today's marketplace,” she added.

Despite this being a tough time to find a job, many students participating in the program are optimistic that they have the skills they need to succeed.

Amna Salih, who came to the United States from Sudan nearly three years ago, got a job as a bank teller after the training program. "Now I feel confident and comfortable to deal with the customers, and I know what the products of banking are and my responsibility about cash handling, doing transactions. So I learned a lot," said Salih.

Goodwill executives say they are maintaining strong relationships with businesses that turn to Goodwill to find qualified and well-trained employees in the current economic climate.

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