Job Corps Provides Opportunities for Refugee Young Adults

Refugee young adults in the U.S. between the ages of 16 and 24 may have narrow educational and career training options due to low English language proficiency and a lack of formal education. Job Corps can offer refugee youth the opportunity to learn and live with American students, perfect English language skills, and ultimately achieve educational and employment goals. Job Corps is a free program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, available to help young people improve their livelihood and career prospects by empowering them to obtain professional jobs and become financially independent. Participants in Job Corps live on-site at one of 131 locations across the country, learning academic skills and training for a chosen career path. After students spend their morning in the classroom, they spend the afternoon learning a specific trade. Each location has different training programs based on the needs of the communities.  For example, programs might include, advanced manufacturing, construction, health care, culinary arts, or transportation.

Job Corps is a self-paced program that takes between 8 months and 2 years to complete. When participants are close to finishing the program, Job Corps provides employment support, including job coaching, resume and application assistance, and networking referrals.  These services continue for up to one year after graduation. Most students graduate with a job or enroll in college.

Job Corps and Refugees

The key to success in pairing refugee youth with Job Corps lies in creating a relationship with your local Job Corps center. For example, Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley (CSSMV) in Dayton, OH, worked with Job Corps admissions and career counselors to help create a space of welcome for refugee youth. CSSMV refugee program has been working with the Job Corps program in Dayton, OH since 2010, according to Teena Davis, Outreach and Admissions Counselor for Job Corps.

When CSSMV is advising a client on whether Dayton Job Corps would be appropriate, the two Job Corps components are considered: education and employment. Job Corps provides the educational component by assisting youth in obtaining their high school diploma or GED in addition to a trade. However, not every Job Corps site offers ESL.   In Dayton, CSSMV facilitated a partnership between Job Corps and a local English Language program.  As a result, ESL classes are now available for refugee participants.

Interested in connecting with a local Job Corps center? Ellenne Abraham, Job Corps Career Counselor, suggests that resettlement sites offer to assist with recruitment and work with their local Job Corps to find innovative low cost methods to offer ESL.  Abraham also advises resettlement sites to refer refugee community members for Job Corps center position openings. Those staff members can be ambassadors to help avoid miscommunication and cultural mishaps.  Refugee employment staff should also continue to be available to assist referred refugees when needed.

Success Story

Bior was resettled in 2016 when he was 18.  At school in the Kakuma refugee camp, Bior dreamed of becoming a scientist. After arrival in Dayton, Bior realized that in order to achieve his dream, he would need to take an indirect route. Bior’s Employment Coordinator at CSSMV spoke with him about Job Corps.  Three months later, Bior entered the high school diploma program at Job Corps and then began the Medical Assistant trade program. Bior completed his high school diploma and Medical Assistant training in a year. Today, Bior continues to reside at Dayton Job Corps: “I work at a Pharmacy after classes and I am now in college studying Aviation Technology. Job Corps provides me with everything I need and everything is free, including books and transportation.”

You can learn more about the Job Corps program by visiting their website or by reaching out to your local admissions office.

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App Based Employment: Career Counseling Strategies

As many refugees access flexible app-based employment opportunities, such as rideshare, labor, and delivery, how are you preparing clients?

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Planning

For clients interested in entering app-based or on-demand employment, it is important to offer career counseling that provides guidance as to how this intermediate path contributes or hinders their long-term career path. Uber, InstaCart, and other app-based positions may provide flexible, immediate income. However, these gigs are not necessarily sustainable in the long-term and are not appropriate for everyone. When clients inquire about this type of employment, it is important to assist them in exploring the advantages and disadvantages of each opportunity as well as other options that can support their career pathway.

Important Considerations

  • Flexibility in the schedule might allow more time for ESL, GED, or post-secondary education courses.
  • The employer may offer opportunities for employees to further their education and even helps offset some of the cost. For example, Lyft partnered with an education benefits company to provide education advancement programming, including Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, GED, vocational, and English language courses. For more information, click here.
  • All the app based employers require a strong command of the English language.
  • Rideshare apps such as Lyft and Uber or delivery apps such as Postmates and Grubhub require both a driver’s license and a car.
  • How much does the client need to make to be self-sufficient?
  • What is the actual pay per hour after expenses? How do you budget for tips?
  • As an independent contractor, what will the taxes amount to and how will they be paid?
  • Overall, do the pros outweigh the cons?
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Financial Literacy Spotlight: Savings

When working entry-level jobs it can be difficult to contribute to a savings account. However, it is imperative for everyone to build up a savings safety net and therefore crucial for employment specialists to reiterate the importance of savings as a part of financial literacy training. Below are some resources to help you teach and encourage refugees to save:

“Savings” is money that is set aside for a specific purpose such as buying a home or emergency income. Cash left over in a checking account after paying bills does not necessarily count as “savings,” especially if the money is going to be used later in the same pay period. Similarly, if a client “saved” $5 at the grocery store, they have not necessarily increased their savings, but rather refrained from spending what was planned. Saving is not the absence of spending; saving is the intentional act of setting money aside for a specific goal or purpose. Many financial institutions have developed initiatives that include a curriculum covering the basics of money management with specific lessons on saving.  Here is a link to some of our favorites.

As a part of financial literacy training, encourage clients to open a savings account the same time they open their checking account.  When building a budget with a client, it is crucial to build in a line for savings, but how much should a client save each paycheck or month? The National Endowment for Education has developed several useful web-based tools, including Savings for Emergencies and Smart About Money. As clients enter employment, encourage them to put the appropriate amount of income into savings.

Incorporating savings into financial literacy and job readiness courses assists refugees with their long-term self-sufficiency and independence. Whether to buy a car or a house, or just for an unplanned emergency, learning how to save is crucial to success.

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Self-Sufficiency Series: Solutions from the Field

As part of its Self-Sufficiency Series: Solutions from the Field, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently published a blog post highlighting the women’s sewing class offered by World Relief – Seattle.  To see the post and to learn more about the series, click here.

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What Now? Post-High School, College & Career Readiness for Refugee Youth

Tuesday, September 11, 2018 at 1PM EST

Join BRYCS to gain insight into ways to prepare refugee students for college and career, including involving refugee parents in decision making. Promising Practices among programs serving refugee youth transitioning to adulthood will be shared. Register Today!

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New employer partners? Don’t forget about USCIS E-Verify webinars!

Every month, USCIS provides E-Verify webinars for new staff, new employer partners, Human Resource professionals, and others seeking information regarding what E-Verify is and how it works. As refugee employment staff, it is crucial to understand the work authorization process and how to educate employers on how to use and access E-Verify correctly. There are webinars on every step, including I-9 documents, E-Verify overview, employee rights, and more. Check out their September schedule here. For more information on E-Verify, click here.

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LSS/NCA Shares Career Advancement Employment Strategies

More often than not, the first job a refugee gets in the U.S. is only temporary, as its main purpose is to start generating income to cover living expenses. Many refugees are eager to return to a previous field or pursue other career opportunities, but there may be obstacles that stand in the way: the need for professional-level English, re-certification of degrees or licenses, and the lack of a professional network, to name a few. In this post, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSS/NCA) shares their two-pronged approach to assisting clients who are ready to embark on their career pathway.

  1. Utilizing Volunteers

Twice a month, a professional career coach volunteers with LSS/NCA to provide highly-skilled clients with training on writing resumes, cover letters, and job applications. LSS/NCA also has a growing list of career mentors with industry-specific expertise to provide staff and refugees with networking and other field-specific guidance. These volunteers utilize their own professional backgrounds to assist clients in navigating their chosen career path.

  1. Partnering With Local Service Providers

To address the barriers clients face when pursuing professional employment, LSS/NCA relies on their close partnerships with other community organizations that specialize in career advancement. One of these partnerships is with Your Edge for Success, a career coaching company that provides personalized career services and professional job seminars.

Connecting with American Job Centers and WIOA training programs provides additional routes for refugees to achieve their long-term goals. LSS/NCA partners with the local workforce development center to regularly provide information sessions featuring panelists from a variety of professions. LSS/NCA also has access to vocational training programs in the medical, accounting, and project management fields.

To provide networking support, LSS/NCA works with Northern Virginia Friends of Refugees, a network of faith communities, NGOs, businesses, and public agencies interested in assisting and connecting with refugees. The organization sponsors an annual networking event for refugees that features guest speakers and field professionals offering advice. Last year, the event drew over 100 refugees and SIVs.

Each of these partnerships build deeper connections between refugees and the local community, while providing critical career support to refugees beyond their initial job placement after arrival.

For more information on LSS/NCA’s employment work, contact Lauren Ressue at ressuel@lssnca.org.

To find training in your area, look at CareerOneStop’s Local Training Finder.

What career advancement opportunities do you provide for your clients? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org!

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New Webinar from META! Data Visualization in Excel Made Easy, August 21

Register now for META’s introductory webinar Data Visualization in Excel Made Easy! This beginners-level webinar will be held on August 21, 2018, from 3:00-4:00PM ET. The training is intended for staff in all roles who don’t work with data every day but want to learn basic steps to get started using the tools you already have.

After attending this webinar, you will be able to:
•    Describe the importance of data visualization.
•    Name key steps for visualizing data well.
•    Begin using data visualization to convey common messages.

META also is excited to offer a limited number of one-on-one data visualization consultations! 5 interested ORR-funded organizations will receive customized help to improve their data visualization skills. Using your actual data, META will work with you to build your capacity in using data to convey your chosen message to your audience, whether that’s your program team, your donor, your partners or your wider community. Attend the webinar or email META@Rescue.org to learn more!

 

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Partnering on Corporate Days of Service

Partnerships with employers beyond job placements are a strategic way to maintain and grow business relationships. Businesses support refugee resettlement programs through employee giving, event sponsorship, donations, and grants, but did you know that many firms also sponsor employee volunteer days? Many companies offer their employees 1 to 3 days per year to go out into the community and provide volunteer service.  For example, TripAdvisor allows their employees to take up to five days of paid leave to volunteer their time and skills at any nonprofit organization, including those working with refugees. Before reaching out to an employer with a proposal, Higher recommends that refugee programs prepare a list and description of short-term volunteer roles that would be appropriate for such an event. When providing options, be mindful of corporate preferences such as volunteer opportunities that might be done at the business’s location or one-time large group projects.

Here are just a few ways in which refugee employment programs might utilize corporate volunteers:

  • Have the company put on a fair or job readiness class where refugees can learn about different aspects of American workplace culture. This event can also include informational interviews and interviewing or networking practice for clients.
  • Have the company’s employee’s act as career mentors for refugee clients.
  • Seek out professional volunteers that might offer their skills for special projects such as database creation, grant writing, social media, or marketing.

Related Resources from the Higher Blog:

A Few Ways to Engage Volunteers in your Employment Program

Targeted Volunteer Recruitment- for Employment Programs

4 Ways to Utilize Volunteers in Employment Services

Do you have a great corporate partner that you would like to share with us? Please write to us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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Introducing the Welcoming Economies Playbook: Strategies for Building an Inclusive Local Economy

Upcoming Welcoming America webinar and tool launch:

Many communities recognize that refugee and other immigrant residents, in addition to being valued neighbors and civic leaders, represent economic growth as new homeowners, taxpayers, business owners, workers, and consumers. Together with longer-term residents, New Americans are fueling the competitiveness of local companies and communities in the global economy.

This webinar will explore Welcoming America’s soon-to-be-released new tool, the Welcoming Economies Playbook: Strategies for Building an Inclusive Local Economy by sharing how local leaders can develop an inclusive approach to economic development, tips for success, and key strategies around areas such as workforce development, entrepreneurship, home ownership, and urban and rural agriculture.

Featured Speakers

  • Natalie El-Deiry, Deputy Director, International Rescue Committee in Salt Lake City
  • Sloan Herrick, Deputy Director, Global Detroit
  • Karen Kaplan, Director of Work Train, CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity
  • Christina Pope, Network Director, Welcoming America

When:  Thursday, August 16, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. EDT

REGISTER NOW

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