Dunn & Done: A Model for Lifting Earnings in a High-Cost County
The report concluded there are two ways to mitigate the challenges of high housing prices: “bring earnings up or bring costs down.”
Let’s steer away from the cost side for now where reform is needed in everything from state environmental burdens, to federal regulation on lending, to the prerogatives of free markets.
That leaves the notion of increasing earnings—which brings us to a recently forged alliance between one of Orange County’s premier private enterprises and best-known nonprofit organizations.
Goodwill of Orange County recently received a $500,000 gift from the elite business litigation firm of Greenberg Gross LLP to expand the nonprofit’s career and job placement services. The donation will more than double Goodwill’s workforce development services, which include job-seeking skill training, mobility training, personal development, academic support, personal social adjustment, vocational English and individualized job exploration and placement tailored to the person’s needs and abilities.
Goodwill removes employment barriers for a range of workers from people with disabilities to veterans. This gift will do more of that, as well as address the genuine need—and opportunity— of “middle-skill” jobs.
Middle-skill jobs typically pay higher wages than regional averages, and provide increased access to successful career paths for many without a four- year college degree. The increase of potential earnings and career mobility, in turn, helps increase the overall standard of living and quality of life.
These jobs are increasing in health care, IT, and others—generally requiring some post-high school education such as community college and/or certificate programs.
And consider this: 34 of the 50 fastest growing Orange County growth occupations and 41 of the top 50 jobs projected to create the most openings in the next decade will require less than a four-year college degree.
Anecdotal evidence indicates that many of those jobs go unfilled in Orange County for lack of suitably trained and skilled candidates.
Thus, middle-skill training programs give young adults and mid-career jobseekers the chance to acquire abilities to match the demand of the labor market. Indeed, per a recent OCBC study, Orange County must make it a mission to bridge the middle-skills gap.
Goodwill provided more than 340,000 hours of job coaching, 61,278 days of placement services, 40,952 days of services and more than 4,000 instructor-led training hours last year.
The Greenberg Gross donation will allow the Goodwill Career Center—which will be renamed for the firm—to do even more. Plans call for new training staff and instructors, new computers and upgrades to software, fresh training and testing materials, and more hours of job coaching and tailored job placement services.
The partnership of Greenberg Gross and Goodwill represents a sincere step toward addressing some of the fallout from the high-priced housing market. Perhaps a modest effort in light of the enormity of the problem, yet a valuable and worthy effort that holds the potential to develop a model on training to allow Orange County a reprieve from the crisis and ensure the healthy retention of its next generation of workers.