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Goodwill launches banking training program


People with disabilities or who may otherwise find it difficult to find employment now have another training venue available to them in Greater Des Moines.

Last week, Goodwill Industries of Central Iowa wrapped up its first Careers in Banking training session, a six-week course designed to prepare people to become tellers or fill other entry-level banking positions.

“We’re modeling this after the (Goodwill) program in Minneapolis-St. Paul,” said Marlyn McKeen, president of Goodwill Industries of Central Iowa. “This is a new occupational skill training area, so they can get jobs in data entry, banking or customer service.”

For Stephani Seskis, who graduated from the inaugural course on Friday, the training course provides her a chance to find employment that’s suited to her skills. Her previous jobs have included handling cash, customer service and sales, she said.

“I felt more comfortable applying for a job I had more skills for,” Seskis said.

Along with learning skills specific to banking, participants learn “soft skills,” such as communication, proper work attire, the importance of attendance and properly dealing with conflict.

The program was developed with assistance from bankers at Bankers Trust Co., U.S. Bank and West Bank, who serve on an advisory board that reviewed the curriculum and conducted mock interviews of the students. Also involved on the board are representatives from Des Moines Area Community College, AIB College of Business, Drake University, Golden Circle Behavioral Health, Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services and the Iowa Workforce Development Center.

“Our commitment is that we’re assisting with putting together the materials and assisting with the training a little bit,” said Teresa Peterson, teller manager for West Bank. “And we’re trying to educate the bankers that this program is available and that tellers may be coming from this program.”

Though the inaugural class had just three participants, McKeen said he hopes to fill future classes with about 10 students each. “Our goal would be to serve at least 50 to 60 students in a 12-month period,” he said.

Seskis said she has just begun sending out resumes, which the program covered during the last week of class.

Funding for the course comes from various programs through the Iowa Department of Workforce Development and other agencies that refer people for vocational rehabilitation.

In 2004, Goodwill Industries of Central Iowa served a total of 875 people in programs ranging from work-adjustment training, job placement and skill-training programs.

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