We just got back from our 3rd Annual Refugee Employment workshop in Denver, CO, where about 150 refugee employment professionals from all over the nation met to learn, network, and share their expertise.
While we were thrilled with the turnout, we know that there are a lot of folks in our network who could not attend.
So in case you missed out this year, here are 5 takeaways that will keep you in the loop:
1. Not only is Colorado a beautiful state, but it is leading the way on many fronts when it comes to refugee resettlement. Aside from being early adopters of the Consultative Selling job development model and forging new and creative career pathways models for refugees (see number 3 below), the state has invested in extensive research on what works and what doesn’t in refugee integration. Check out Colorado’s recently published Refugee Integration Survey and Evaluation (RISE) report.
2. Susan Downs-Karkos from Welcoming America participated in our Refugee and Immigrant Economic Integration panel, and talked about how welcoming communities lead to economic prosperity for immigrants and refugees, which in turn leads to thriving communities. Many of the the insights she shared can be found in Welcoming America’s Guide to Immigrant Economic Development, as well as Welcoming America’s recent webinar Creating Inclusive Economies: How to Open Up Opportunities to Refugees.
3. While much work remains to be done in developing career pathways for refugees, there has been significant progress in this area, and there are strong examples around the country of vocational training programs offered by refugee serving organizations or of these organizations partnering with (or securing funding from) the mainstream workforce development system. Here are a few of the programs that were highlighted at this year’s workshop:
- The International Institute of Saint Louis’s Job Skills Trainings and Career Advancement for International Professionals Program
- The Denver-area African Community Center’s training programs in sewing, food safety, and retail
- Bankwork$– a free training program for careers in the financial services industry, available to adults from a low-income background and minority communities
- Colorado Welcome Back Center by Spring Institute helps foreign-trained healthcare professionals reestablish healthcare careers in Colorado.
- Emily Griffith Technical College’s Transitions Program– “Bridge” training programs designed to transition non-native English speakers into post-secondary career and technical programs .
4. Knotty Tie Co. – One of the employer’s on this year’s employer panel was a company called Knotty Tie Co., whose social mission is to “create dignified employment opportunities for skilled resettled refugees.” The company hires refugees who graduate from the African Community Center’s “We Made This” sewing program, and teaches them to make beautiful, high quality ties and scarves. Pick one up for your next employer meeting!
5. Our network is young, diverse, and innovative. Higher met so many people this past week who are thinking creatively about refugee employment, starting social enterprises, collaborating with mainstream workforce development, and thinking of new and innovative ways to help our clients succeed. We walked away with a long list of things to highlight on the blog in the coming year that will help you in your work, so stay tuned!
If you couldn’t make it this year, we hope that these 5 takeaways made you feel a little more connected. Know that we missed you and want to hear from you. Let us know what is going on at your office. Tell us about the challenges you are facing. Share your success stories. Put your innovative project on our radar.
You can get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.