Search Results for: mentoring

Free Employment Mentoring How To Guide

Shafiq 2If you are a regular reader of Higher’s blog, you may recall some stories from Lancaster, PA about an employment mentoring pilot project begun in 2013. As a program of LIRS, Higher has been involved in the pilot project that now includes two additional pilot sites in Atlanta, GA and Omaha, NE.

Throughout the initial pilot phase, I have watched each site adapt the model for their local environment and incorporate mentoring as a career advancement tool for refugees without a big burden on staff time or resources. The results have been meaningful for both mentees and mentors. Click here to read what Shafiqullah Jahish and Dan McCaster (pictured at right) learned and achieved from their mentoring experience in Omaha, NE.  

Together with all three implementing sites, LIRS has developed a how to guide for adopting a similar “Careers and Cnnections Employment Mentoring Project”.  Download a free copy of the guide from LIRS website.

Rebecca Armstrong Head ShotRebecca Armstrong has been a part of refugee employment technical assistance for more than 11 years, most recently as Director of Higher. Many of you have worked with Becca and will join Higher in wishing her well as she leaves Higher and LIRS to become the Executive Director of a civil rights and arts empowerment organization based in Selma, Alabama. Higher/LIRS employment mentoring project is the most recent practical refugee employment resource we will all continue to use going forward. Thanks, Becca, we’ll miss you. 

Please follow and like us:

Mentoring Resources

Mentoring Resources – A collection of resources devoted to mentoring programs. If you have resources or information that you would like to share, please contact us at information@higheradvantage.org.

Please follow and like us:

Study Confirms Mentoring Works

Mentoring Study HighlightAcross the country, mentoring programs are an increasingly common strategy to boost employment outcome and client success.  Some programs target new arrivals.  Others focus on clients ready for job upgrades or professional recertification.

A 2013 Canadian study of a mentoring initiative targeting newly arrived immigrant professionals offers evidence to support what we already believe.  Mentoring really works.  In the 12 months of the study, participants working in their professional fields went from 17% to 71%.  Incomes, employment and full-time employment also rose significantly.   Download the full report on our website.

ALLIES (Assisting Local Leaders with Immigrant Employment Strategies) is a project jointly funded by Maytree and The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation. ALLIES supports local efforts in Canadian cities to successfully adapt and implement programs that further the suitable employment of skilled immigrants

Higher will continue to follow the progress of a very successful employment mentoring pilot project at Lutheran Refugee Services of Lancaster, PA, which will be replicated in a few more sites over the next year.  The current issue of Higher’s newsletter, just released yesterday, highlights another great example from USCCB Affiliate Catholic Charities Maine in Portland.  If you missed it, click here for a link to the article.

 

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:

Update: Lancaster, PA’s Employment Mentoring Pilot Project

A lot has been happening in the Lancaster, PA employment mentoring pilot program we’ve highlighted in previous posts.  Eight months into an initial one year pilot, the third group of 12 more refugee-mentor pairs is being finalized to reach a total of 30 teams.  Here are a few stories and valuable lessons learned through our ongoing partnership with Lutheran Refugee Services (LRS) of Lancaster, PA and LIRS.  The project seeks to deepen refugee social integration through employment-focused mentoring.Mentoring snip one

Job shadowing, community college orientations and informational interviews are just a few of the opportunities being generated through the program.

One mentee has been preapproved for a home loan and is going through the learning experience of buying a home with the help of his mentor.

All of the refugees participMentoring Khem and Alating in the program are gaining community ties, opportunities to practice English and confidence in their ability to engage and interact with their new communities.

For example, Khem and Pramila Subedi and Khem’s mentor Al Duncan, CEO of Thomas E. Strauss, Inc. attended a recent LIRS Board Meeting to talk about their mentoring experience.  (See their photo at left.)  Khem says that through his participation in the mentor program, “I am getting wider every day.”  Al feels that mentoring is a common and valuable experience in our country and it’s not so different to involve refugees.

It’s hard to capture in writing the energy and motivation present in the room whenever the teams get together, as they did this past Saturday to discuss an important lesson learmentor snip twoned so far.

The initial thinking was that each pair would follow a very unique path based on the opportunities available to work towards achieving specific career goals.  Computer skills, advanced ESL and the ability to access additional education and training suggest the need for some common resources and steps to achieving any individual career goals.

At Saturday’s meeting, mentor outreach consultant Ellen Willenbecher provided all of the mentors with a packet listing resources already available in the community.  That helps create space to leverage more

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

of the unique skills mentors can offer.  For example, mentor Angela Harnish, an ESL instructor at the University of Delaware, offered a workshop on easy strategies for working on accent reduction.  The room was packed with refugee mentees and their friends and families (See photo at left.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:

Understanding and Benefiting from Corporate Volunteering

Volunteers are an extremely useful resource to expand support services for refugees. They bring insight to U.S. culture and systems, access to networks for early employment opportunities and career advancement, and time and resources to support refugees. Successful volunteer engagement builds an agency’s capacity to serve clients. Traditional volunteerism engages individuals and small groups in mentoring, teaching, setting up apartments, and more! In addition, volunteers often serve as the best program advocates and donors because of their unique connection to refugee resettlement work. To broaden volunteerism, agencies may choose to engage businesses and employers in volunteer opportunities.

Corporate volunteering is when a company partners with a nonprofit to provide volunteers for the organization, often with paid time off or other incentives for their employee volunteers. Corporate volunteering can offer a lot of benefits, not only to resettlement programs, but to the companies themselves. Corporations benefit from volunteering through increased staff morale, staff team building, and being more visible in their communities. Resettlement agencies benefit by being able to tap into a group of organized fully vetted volunteers.    There are also strong links between corporate volunteering and corporate giving.

How to Use Corporate Volunteering

Corporations can provide on-site volunteers in all the traditional ways, or they could provide volunteers from a distance by doing things remotely like:

  • Serve as one-on-one ESL conversation partners with refugees over Skype
  • Provide industry specific employment strategies or insight
  • Teach job readiness classes
  • Facilitate mock interviews
  • Organize fundraisers or collection drives
  • Create “kits” of donated items for arriving refugees
  • Banks could provide free checking accounts and assist financial literacy classes on managing money and using a bank account
  • Career mentors or career visit days for refugee youth at the corporate site

Corporate volunteering is a great way to include local businesses into your organization’s mission while simultaneously providing services to your clients. Be sure to be prepared with opportunities and information on how to best work together before seeking new partnerships.

For more information on employment specific corporate volunteering, read Higher’s previous post.

Please follow and like us:

WIOA Youth Program Updates and Resources

The implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) creates several ways for refugee clients to access the mainstream workforce system and offers young adults in particular some valuable resources. (If you are new to the WIOA program, check out this previous Higher blog for 5 easy first steps to connect with WIOA opportunities.)

The Youth Services Team within the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration recently launched “Our Journey Together: The WIOA Youth Program Technical Assistance (TA) Series” with four webinars in October. Whether you are new to the world of WIOA or consistently refer clients for WIOA services, here are some updates and resources shared in the webinar series worth knowing.

Resources

  • The WIOA Youth Program Fact Sheet gives an overview of available services and outlines eligibility requirements, which you may find helpful in making appropriate referrals to your local American Job Center.
  • The WIOA Youth Program Element Resources web-page covers 14 key topics related to youth education and employment, such as Paid and Unpaid Work Experience, Occupational Skills Training, and Leadership Development Opportunities. You can access a wide range of topic-specific resources from here, such as links to workforce training materials, toolkits, and webinars.

Focus on Out-of-School Youth

There has been a shift toward primarily serving out-of-school youth (OSY) with the passage of WIOA. To review out-of-school eligibility requirements, you can watch this brief 5-minute video presentation.

What’s Ahead

Stay tuned for upcoming WIOA Youth Program TA resources relevant to your work with refugee youth employment, including topics such as: Job Corps, Mentoring, Financial Literacy, Trauma-Informed Care, Summer Employment, Career Pathways, Entrepreneurship, and Apprenticeship. Enroll in the Workforce GPS system here to receive notifications about future webinars and resources.

Written by Carrie Thiele.

 

Please follow and like us:

Training Shortens Entry Path into U.S. Financial Field

We’ve all learned that having overseas financial services experience doesn’t guarantee quick entry into the U.S. banking industry. Fortunately that traditionally long journey toward entering the U.S. financial sector has been shortened for some refugees, thanks to industry training initiatives.

Pictured is Baktash Muhammadi

Baktash Muhammadi, for example, resettled from Afghanistan to the U.S. in the summer of 2017,  started Goodwill’s BankWork$ financial services training program within three weeks of arrival. Upon completion of the free, eight-week training program, Baktash was quickly employed as a relationship banker at Bank of the West and is on a career path he loves!

BankWork$ provides training for young adults from low income and minority communities to prepare them for jobs as bank tellers, customer service representatives, and personal bankers. Graduates are supported not only in their initial job searches, but receive continued mentoring to help with future job upgrades as well. Last year, BankWork$ placed 75% of its graduates with partner banks, including Bank of America, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo. Click here to see their upcoming class schedule as well as application information. If your city isn’t currently included, check out other Federal Employment Training Program options in your state and stay tuned for future updates from BankWork$ as they continue to add new sites around the country.

Written by guest blogger Carrie Thiele.

Please follow and like us:

Targeted Volunteer Recruitment- for Employment Programs

Guest blog post by Laura Griffin, Coordinator for Volunteerism and Mentoring at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

Phones ringing constantly? Volunteer applications piling up?

Many offices have seen a massive increase in the number of people reaching out to volunteer.

But is your agency able to find the right volunteers that actually help employment programs? Depending on the needs of your employment team, the right volunteer might mean someone who is available during office hours or people with specific skills and experience that can mentor higher skilled refugees. In order to find the best possible volunteers to support your employment program, you may want to consider targeted volunteer recruitment.

It might sound counter-intuitive, but strategically narrowing your recruitment effort to a small audience of potential volunteers may be more effective than broader outreach. In addition to benefiting your program, people are more likely to say “yes” when asked to volunteer if your request is personalized and specific. If you are recruiting volunteers and trying to leverage their skills strategically you need to learn enough about each applicant to know what motivates them to volunteer, and what makes them especially qualified for the job.

To get started on your targeted recruitment campaign, answer these 4 questions:

 

Question Example 1: Career Mentors Example 2: Teacher
1) What do you need? Civil engineer employment mentor Teacher for 10 AM Job Development Class
2) Who could provide this? Current or retired civil engineers Retired teachers, education grad students, current teachers off during the summer
3) How can we communicate with them? Ask staff & current volunteers if they know any civil engineers they could recruit. Post on job recruitment sites like Indeed.com. Call engineering companies. Call local school administers (Hint: End of the school year is best, right before summer break). Reach out to staff/volunteer personal contacts. Call local grad schools.
4) What would motivate these people to volunteer? Personal experience with career mentors in their own life. A desire to see the results of mentoring in refugee lives. Learning more about the culture of the students they teach, adding cross-cultural skills for their resume

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’re on your way to recruiting the right volunteer for the job. Read 8 Ways Volunteers Can Support Refugee Employment for more ideas on volunteer roles.

Have any great experiences to share? Email information@higheradvantage.org.

Please follow and like us:

3 Ways to Empower Highly Skilled Clients

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 information@higheradvantage.org.

Please follow and like us:

Workforce Resource: Career Resources for Youth

Jess Wyatt/Refugee Youth Project, Baltimore, MD

Jess Wyatt/Refugee Youth Project, Baltimore

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) includes youth workforce development programs and resources aimed at both in-school and out-of-school youth, with a strong emphasis on out-of-school youth between the ages of 16-24. Since most refugee resettlement programs do not have youth-specific employment programs, being familiar with the resources available to youth through the mainstream workforce development system can be a game-changer for younger refugees. Here are a few key programs and resources to be aware of:

  • Job Corps is a nationwide program that offers free career training in variety of industries. This program is aimed at giving young people the skills they need in order to obtain employment and become self-sufficient. Job Corps is located in all 50 states, but some states have several sites whereas states like Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, and Alaska only have one Job Corps center.
  • Youthbuild is an organization that is found in 46 states and aims to give construction skills to low income out-of-school youth. The program aims to put the participants on a path to responsible adulthood and teaches them to give back to the local community. The 10-month program pairs classroom learning with construction skills so that teens leave the program with a GED and professional skills. Participants spend about 50% of their time in academic classrooms and the rest of the time is spent on hands-on job training building affordable housing or other community assets. The program serves around 10,000 low-income young people each year and includes mentoring, follow-up education, employment, and personal counseling services.
  • AmeriCorps is a civil service program supported by the U.S. federal government, foundations, and corporations with the goal of serving local communities. Participants commit to full-time or part-time positions offered by a network of nonprofit community organizations and public agencies, to fulfill assignments in the fields of education, public safety, health care, and environmental protection.  AmeriCorps is a wonderful opportunity to expose youth to the needs of their own community while also giving them valuable professional skills as well has professional references. Additionally, anyone who completes AmeriCorps is given an educational award with which to use towards an associates, bachelor or master’s degree.
  • Refugee AmeriCorps is a type of AmeriCorps program, that places members at refugee resettlement agencies. Volunteering with AmeriCorps, full or part time, can be a great way to get work experience and give back to the community.  To learn about AmeriCorps volunteer opportunities, visit the AmeriCorps website, or reach out to your local resettlement agencies to learn if they have an Refugee AmeriCorps position available.

In order to gain access to these programs, your agency will need to take the initiative to reach out to these organizations to introduce your population. Like any partnership you will need to consider the cost and benefits of pursuing collaboration with these mainstream programs. For example how much staff time does it take to establish and maintain partnership versus simply doing job development for clients? It may be better to gather other resettlement agencies in your area to act as a larger network when planning partnership with these mainstream programs.

In addition to youth programs, there are also online resources geared towards youth:

youthrulesYouth Rules! – This is a great online resource for tech savvy youth who have a higher level of English skills. The site covers the child labor laws and minimum age for employment in each state. There is a great Youth Worker Toolkit that is basically a 101 on working in the US for youth similar to job readiness training that refugee agencies provide.

All of the presentations are colorful and interactive and there are even helpful free apps for listening to webinars or keeping track of work hours and pay dates.

This resource is a great place to explore different options for part-time work or training. There are forums and blogs and even instructions on how to report violation of workers’ rights.

GetMyFuture is a resource available on careeronestop.org that provides a “dashboard” or “portal” for youth who need information on a range of education and career related topics. For example, youth can get information about writing a resume, applying for college, starting a business, or access assessment tools that will help identify suitable careers based on interest and skills.

All of these programs and websites offer an array of resources related to educational and career resources for youth as well as ideas for topics to cover in job readiness instruction. These resources are easy to navigate but many of them are text heavy and would be difficult for clients without English proficiency to use independently. You may want to consider translating some of the resources into a curriculum for refugee youth or using them during one-on-one sessions between a refugee and volunteer.

For easy links to these and other youth-related resources, check out the clickable Mainstream Youth Employment Resources tool we created this past Spring.

Ask us your questions and share your success stories about working with refugee youth by emailing us at information@higheradvantage.org.

Please follow and like us: