Scholarships for Refugees: University of the People

With restrictive schedules and finances, one way for refugees to pursue post-secondary education is through online programs. One example is the University of the People, a non-profit, tuition-free, online accredited university, which allows students to learn on their own time through a variety of courses leading towards two- or four-year degrees in business administration, computer science, or health science.

Regardless of the program choice, the cost is a $100 assessment fee at the end of each course, with scholarships available. Scholarships are available for refugees: the Emergency Refugee Scholarship, the Small Giants Refugees fund, and the Myanmar Scholarship fund. Those interested can apply after completion of the student application and admission.

Questions regarding scholarships can be emailed to financial.aid@uopeople.edu.

Read more about University of the People in this recent VOA article.

For other online programs available to refugees, see Higher’s previous post on Coursera.

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World Refugee Day

On June 20, World Refugee Day, we honour the resilience and courage of more than 65 million people who have been forced to flee war, persecution and violence. But it’s also a moment to recognize those communities and people around the world who receive refugees and the internally displaced in their midst, offering them a safe place, and welcoming them in their schools, their workplaces and their societies.”  — Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Refugees that make a home in the United States have the opportunity to work and learn the skills necessary to reestablish themselves and make positive contributions in their new communities, because of the work of refugee resettlement staff and supporters, like you. Thank you.

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Building Professional Online Networking for Refugee Clients

Higher presents a guest post from Jessica Ploen, Career Advancement Specialist at Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska (LFSN), on their partnership with LinkedIn to provide training for highly skilled refugees.

In today’s professional landscape networking is one of the best ways to secure a job and a professional online profile amplifies your reach. Limited personal connections in the US and narrow exposure to online professional systems present a barrier for newly arrived refugees. Developing a high-quality LinkedIn profile helps clients overcome this barrier and increase confidence by showcasing their skills, education, and experience.

In February 2018, LFSN partnered with LinkedIn to provide refugee clients with a training on creating and updating their LinkedIn profiles, including profile pictures. Guidance on how to utilize LinkedIn profiles in the job search process was also provided.

This partnership was inspired by a Higher blog post describing a jointly produced job fair for immigrants and refugees where participants received guidance from LinkedIn staff. LFSN proposed a similar idea to LinkedIn and was connected with “LinkedIn for Good,” a program promoting access to economic opportunity for underserved communities including youth, veterans, and refugees. LinkedIn for Good helps participants build networks and acquire needed skills for advancement in their fields of interest.

A total of 14 LFSN clients and 2 mentors attended the event on February 17th, 2018. After presenting on how to build a great LinkedIn profile, a LinkedIn Product Education Consultant and three volunteer LinkedIn staff created professional profile photographs for attendees.

Participants had the opportunity to interact with other refugees facing similar challenges in building online and professional networks. With their new profiles, participants report feeling empowered to expand their network and more hopeful of advancing in former or new career pathways. LFSN staff members also gained skills in assisting other clients with creating LinkedIn profiles.

Encouraging and supporting refugees to pursue their career goals is critical to promoting long-term professional development, economic self-sufficiency, and community integration.

For more information on the partnership and event, email Jessica at jploen@lfsneb.org.

How do you incorporate partners to help your clients along their career pathway? Email us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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Webinar Alert: Financial Literacy Training Resources

Financial Literacy training is a required resettlement service. On Thursday, June 21st, CORE, the Cultural Orientation Resource Exchange, is providing a 30-minute Money Management webinar on how to engage refugees around key messages on budgeting, financing, and self-sufficiency. The session will draw on CORE’s new resources on Money Management, including a supplemental lesson plan, and also feature additional resources as well as an opportunity to engage with peers on the subject.

To accommodate a range of time zones, the webinar is being offered at 8:00 AM EDT and 1:00 PM EDT on June 21. Note that each webinar will feature the same content.

To select your preferred session time and register, click here.

Other financial literacy resources, such as courses like Understanding Your Paycheck, can be found on Higher’s Online Learning Institute.

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Three Steps to Consider Before Crafting a Resume

Resumes are vital to the job search process, whether it is for a first job or a job upgrade. Generally, resumes should be one page and include a detailed history of the applicant’s ability to meet the needs of the employer. The skill set of the job seeker should match the job description. Resume writing is a critical topic that should receive ample coverage in your interactions with clients.

Recently, Higher presented posts on Cover Letters and Resume Writing for Entry-Level Positions. Today, Chris Hogg, an employment counselor and job-readiness instructor at Community Refugee & Immigration Services (CRIS) in Columbus, Ohio, offers his advice on how to prepare for a client resume writing session in three steps:

Step One: The Interview

Personalization of a resume for each refugee can be challenging when working with the number refugee clients that employment staff are assigned. To add individualization to each resume, there needs to be a thorough and far-ranging interview with every client. While it may seem that employment staff can use a resume template, fill in the blanks, and crank out several bullet points to create a complete resume, such an approach defeats the purpose of a resume and ultimately does the client a disservice. The client needs to understand and articulate what an ideal job (or three) looks like for him or her before staff can even think of putting pen to paper.

Step Two: Skills and Limitations

Identify the client’s skills, experience, and knowledge as they apply to a particular job objective. Identification of soft (transferable) skills is essential because in most cases, and certainly, for the first job, soft skills (teamwork) almost always supersede hard skills (sewing). For example, a refugee may have excellent communication skills (the ability to listen, read body language, to ask questions, give feedback) even though they may have minimal English ability.

Further, discover the client’s barriers and limitations before preparation of a resume. A client may have the physical strength to work in a fast-paced distribution center, for example, but may be easily distracted or become confused if the job requires a wide variety of functions in a short period. Religious and cultural factors also must be identified and resolved.

Step Three: Uniqueness

Resumes should be crafted individually for each client to support the client’s job goals. Thus one could be working with two clients who are very similar (say, civil engineers), and yet craft two resumes that are significantly different in form and content. Resumes can be written in a “human” voice using, when appropriate, the pronoun “I” and including wording such as, “I am seeking my first paid employment ever (I am 21-years-old) – I want to work, I want to do good work, and I want to help my employer be successful.”

Now you’re prepared to craft a focused client-specific resume that will be more likely to result in a client in finding and obtaining a meaningful job.

 

Does your agency have a unique approach to writing resumes with clients? If so, please share with us at information@higheradvantage.org.

Continue to follow Higher’s blog, for another post on resumes for advanced positions.

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Webinar Alert! What Does It Take to Effectively Engage and Retain Out-of-School Youth?

Our Journey Together: Out-of-School Youth Cohort Challenge Review

Join Workforce GPS on Thursday, June 7th from 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM EST to learn about the findings of the Out-of-School Youth Cohort.  Cohort Teams examined and developed resources in the following areas: Empowering Youth as Active Participants; Using Technology in Innovative Ways through Programming; and Recruitment, Marketing, and Outreach Strategies.  Join the webinar and learn how the cohort was created, what they developed, and how your program might benefit.

To register, click here.

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Resources for Highly Skilled Refugees

Highly skilled refugees are unique from other refugees as they often arrive to the U.S. with higher levels of education, advanced English language ability, or extensive training and experience in a particular occupation. Resettlement sites that see smaller numbers of highly skilled refugees tend to find themselves in unfamiliar territory, without the availability of job upgrade programs or experience in long-term goal setting. Higher is sharing resources that can help sites with limited numbers assist highly skilled refugees in obtaining employment that matches their skill level or, ideally, in their previous field.

Foreign Degree Certification

Job Readiness & Education

  • Higher’s Online Learning Institute is our free online system with courses designed for refugee employment staff and job readiness instructors, many of which refugees could take on their own to reiterate coursework and practice skills needed for the American workplace.
  • Upwardly Global provides career development programming for SIVs, immigrants, and refugees who were professionals in their home countries.
  • WES Global Talent Bridge assists community organizations and public agencies that support skilled immigrants with tools, training and other resources.
  • Utilize volunteers in your community to support job readiness classes, career mentors, in-home tutoring for spouses, access to childcare, transportation orientations, and more.

Job Development

What are some unique approaches you use with highly skilled refugees? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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IMPRINT’s Interactive Career Pathways Program Map

Higher presents a guest post from IMPRINT, a coalition of organizations active in the integration of immigrant professionals.

The IMPRINT coalition works to identify and promote best practices in the integration of immigrant professionals and supports national, state, and local efforts to incorporate multilingual/multicultural talent. Members and partner organizations include practitioners, educators, researchers, and policy professionals.

IMPRINT recently updated its unique program map. The map showcases the growth of the immigrant professional integration field across the United States, featuring nearly 90 programs supporting foreign-trained immigrants and refugees seeking to re-enter their professions. It features three categories of programs and services – career preparation, ESL for high-skilled immigrants, and licensing and credentialing guidance – from a rich mix of service providers, public education institutions, and technical assistance providers.

Figure 1. IMPRINT Program and Service Map

Features of the Program Map

The first tab of the map can help direct service providers to identify the programs and services serving foreign-educated immigrants and refugees in a particular state, as well as compare efforts across states. The second tab of the map, the Data Tool, provides useful statistics for program development and advocacy. Users can access demographic information by state, including the number of college-educated immigrants and refugees and data on brain waste. This detailed information can help service providers to increase focus on this population in their state.  You can access the Program Map here.

Figure 2. IMPRINT Program and Service Map- Data Tool

For more information on IMPRINT’s interactive maps, please contact Sylvia Rusin, Research Specialist: Sylvia@imprintproject.org.

For additional information on career pathways, check out Higher’s recertification assistance guides for engineers, accountants, pharmacists, and more. For examples of refugee career pathway programs, go to Higher’s blog.

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Worker’s Rights Review

At Higher, we frequently receive inquiries about the rights of refugee workers. To address those past and future inquiries we have compiled a list of worker’s rights and associated websites.  These rights are important topics for job readiness classes and may enable refugees to recognize instances of discrimination and unsafe working conditions.

Right to be paid – in most instances, workers have the right to be paid federal minimum wage ($7.25 an hour) and to receive overtime pay for work over 40 hours a week. If workers do not receive all of the wages for the time they actually worked, they can take action to recover those wages. Note that many states have minimum wages that exceed the federal minimum wage.

Right to be free of discrimination – it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against or harass workers based on race, color, religion, age, disability, national origin or sex.

Right to organize – in most workplaces, it is illegal for an employer to punish or threaten workers for organizing with others to improve their working conditions.

Right to be safe on the job – workers are protected by workplace health and safety laws at their worksites.

Right to benefits if injured on the job – in most states, workers who are injured on the job are entitled to the protections of state workers’ compensation laws.

Right to unemployment payments – in most states workers who are fully or partially unemployed, looking for work, and have valid work documentation are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.

Right to choose which documents to show your employer for employment eligibility verification (I-9) – for example, your employer cannot demand that you show them a green card. If you do not have a green card yet, you may show your employer your driver’s license or ID and Social Security Card (SSC).

Right to begin work – if you do not have your Social Security card but can provide other documentation of status such as an I-94, you can still begin working unless e-verify is required, in which case a SS number or card is needed at time of employment.

Right to a work environment free of harassment – if you encounter harassment in the form of sexual aggravation, taunting and bullying, or hazing, you may file a report with the U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Special Counsel.

Right to report unfair hiring or work practices – you can report any offenses to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Special Counsel by calling their hotline at 1-800-255-7688.

For more information, check out these resources:

How do you teach refugees in your job readiness classes about their rights in the workplace? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org!

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Refugees in America: Employment Skills Training

As part of their ORR funded refugee employment program efforts, Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley (CSSMV) of Dayton, Ohio has explored a variety of employer partnerships. For example, CSSMV forged a partnership with a staffing agency that works with local clothing manufacturers in need of skilled sewers, and a volunteer sewing teacher to create vocational sewing classes. Together, this partnership serves to prepare refugees with the skills required for employment as Industrial Sewers. With Dayton being the home of several niche market clothing manufacturers, the classes have played a significant role in preparing a trained workforce for this market.

Class Set-up

The vocational sewing classes started in spring of 2012 when a staffing agency approached CSSMV refugee employment staff about the need for skilled sewers. The staffing agency reported needing a large number of experienced sewers for a new employer they had recently contracted. Thus, a program intern who had sewing experience was tasked with providing one-on-one training to clients in the basement of the CSSMV office using donated materials and sewing machines. The demand of refugee trainees and employers quickly outgrew this informal arrangement and the Employment Coordinator approached Pam, a local schoolteacher and ESL volunteer about teaching sewing to clients in a more structured setting. Pam a dedicated, compassionate advocate for refugees agreed and began working with a few clients. Pam and the Employment Coordinator worked together to build a program focusing on sewing skills and job-specific vocabulary. The sewing classes quickly filled up with clients recruited by the refugee employment program, with Pam teaching 6-8 students at a time, two evenings a week.

Refugees in the CSSMV classes are now taught on basic sewing machines and industrial equipment donated by community partners and a local employer. The entire CSSMV training process usually takes eight weeks, but varies depending on the individual’s ability to master the necessary skills. Once participants pass employer skill tests, continued training takes place at the job site, and if necessary, clients can return to CSSMV classes for additional training.

A Partnership that Benefits Everyone

Since its inception in 2012, more than 200 refugees (men and women) primarily from Africa (Eritrea, Ethiopia, D.R. Congo and Sudan) have completed the CSSMV training with most transitioning to full-time company employment and some participants being promoted to team lead and supervisory positions leading to increasing wages and opportunities over time.

Do you have any volunteer-led vocational training in your community? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org

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