Winners by Category – Supplier of the Year

Client: Goodwill Toronto...

Client: Goodwill Toronto

Campaign: Goodwill Toronto’s Call Centre Training Program

Agency: In-House

Title Sponsor: Royal Bank Financial Group

Program Sponsors: Human Resources Development Canada; Imperial Oil Charitable Foundation

Technology Sponsors: Universal Teleresponse; Verizon Wireless Messaging Services

Community Partners: Covenant House; DiscoverAbility

Many organizations might feel helpless when faced with a Statistics Canada figure that reports a staggering 30% unemployment rate for at-risk youth in Canada. Not Goodwill Toronto. Armed with research from a number of sources, the organization also knew that call centres in Ontario could expect 70% growth up until 2002. Do the math – that’s clearly what Goodwill did – and you can see exactly where these at-risk youth might have a chance at employment.

The organization’s call centre training program (still in operation today) targets young people who have been severely affected by socio-economic conditions. The theory was that, by giving individuals the opportunity for careers, they would become loyal employees. The theory has proven to be correct, as the vast majority of grads are still working – many for the same company. This evidence has been used in letter-writing campaigns to corporate Canada and government agencies, which are also reminded that many Canadians don’t have the same opportunities for gainful employment.

Potential call centre employees are targeted in group homes, through government agencies and on the streets. Pamphlets and posters outline the benefits to the program. Each training program runs 16 and 24 weeks long, with the first section spent in in-class training at Goodwill (held at the Royal Bank Financial Group Centre for Training Excellence) and the second in paid internship at one of the employer-partners (which now number over 30). Because of the strict evaluation process, every graduate is guaranteed a job.

Since its inception, the program has far surpassed its goals. One hundred and thirty-one youths are working, and their combined annual earning power is $2.9 million. So successful was the program that it was extended to include persons with disabilities, whose combined earnings are over $2 million.