Refugee employment staff are deeply committed to the work that they do and work hard to empower all clients. Finding ways to empower clients of different skill levels takes creativity and intentionality.
Empowering highly skilled refugees is a unique challenge as it requires balancing immediate needs with long-term aspirations. Creating a standard approach to helping clients develop both short-term and long-term goals will help them have realistic expectations and a sense of optimism for their career path!
Here are 3 best practices for empowering highly skilled clients as you help them work towards their career goals:
1.) Build volunteer/internship opportunities into the Job Readiness experience
Where can you provide opportunities for highly skilled clients to use their skills during the job search process? Consider providing volunteer/internship opportunities for these clients at your agency or at other local organizations or employers.
One idea is to have highly skilled clients mentor or assist in teaching ESL to lower skilled clients. Providing volunteer/internship experiences will be good for clients’ morale and will look good on a résumé!
2.) Take a collaborative approach
Collaborate with highly skilled clients on a job search strategy that takes into account both their short term needs and long term goals. Encourage highly skilled clients to participate in their job search by assigning them tasks they can complete themselves to move their job search forward.
Wherever possible, provide choices that allow the client to guide the process. Providing choices for our clients can be empowering, as explained in this video interview with Carrie Thiele, Integration Programs Manager at ECDC/African Community Center in Denver, CO.
3.) Develop a long-term career plan
Be sure to let highly skilled clients know that after they attain the first step of basic self-sufficiency you really want to see them take the next step to move towards their career goals. Remind them that their first job is not their last job, but rather just the first step to achieve economic security.
Set an appointment for 6 months after they begin their first job in which you will discuss appropriate next steps to pursue, whether that be credential evaluation, a job upgrade or a referral to another training or employment program.
Consider connecting highly skilled clients to a volunteer career mentor who can support them through the process of pursuing their career goals (Check out this guide from LIRS on setting up an employment mentoring program).
We are looking for stories from the field about agencies that have provided volunteer or internship opportunities for clients or have implemented other creative strategies. Share your story by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.