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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How to Keep Employers Engaged

Higher presents a guest post from Ellie White with World Relief Seattle.

In the World Relief Seattle employment office, the employment team uses a whiteboard to keep track of job leads and prospective applicants. Black pen indicates companies that have open positions, while colored pens (each color representing a different employment program) indicate employment program participants who are interested in applying to the corresponding company.

Usually, the board has a healthy balance of companies and job seekers. However, sometimes there is more black than colored ink, which highlights the imbalance between the number of employment opportunities and available candidates.

How can your employment program best navigate this situation?

Be Honest

Always try to stay positive when an employer partner reaches out with a job opportunity. “Thanks for checking in,” one might say, “I’ll pass this along to my team and we’ll let you know if we have any great candidates for you.” Even if your agency doesn’t have a client for the position, it’s important to remember that one of your teammates might have recently connected with a new or former program participant that would be an excellent candidate.

If after three days to two weeks of looking for candidates (depending on the timeline of the employer) results in no job applicant prospects, check back in with the employer and let them know that you don’t currently have any available candidates. End the conversation by asking the employer if they would like you to continue to identify candidates for the position. In this situation, checking in by email occasionally often works best (depending on the employer). A quick message of, “I hope things are going well?” often gets a response of, “Thanks for checking in – we’re good at the moment,” or, “I’m glad you asked -we’re still looking to fill two positions.”

Communicate with honesty to maintain a strong and trusting relationship.

Keep the Long View

Employment programs thrive when employment staff focuses on cultivating employer relationships. Your goal is a mutually beneficial long-term relationship with a local employer partner – never a single job for an individual program participant.

The company values your communication, service, and history of providing excellent candidates and follow-up support, even if you don’t have applicants for current openings.

Refer Employers to Other Employment Programs

A few years ago, a collection of refugee employment service providers in King County, WA, gathered together to create the Refugee Employment Coalition (REC). The coalition meets together for professional development, special projects, and to share employment leads.

When World Relief has no job applicants for an employer partner, they contact the service providers in the REC and share the job leads. World Relief sees this as an opportunity to strengthen its relationship with the employer and the other service providers. However, before referring your employment partners to other service providers, make sure you are able to vouch for the quality of their employment services.

Refugee employment work is a giant puzzle with moving parts that sometimes fit together and sometimes do not. As this puzzle shifts with client arrivals, the job market, and a variety of other uncontrollable factors, we can do our best to provide excellent service to our employer partners so that they continue to have a wonderful experience hiring newly-arrived refugees!

Write to us at information@higheradvantage.org about all the creative ways in which you are keeping employers engaged.

 

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WES Career Pathway Guides

Higher presents a guest post from World Education Services (WES) Global Talent Bridge announcing their new career pathways guides.

Skilled immigrants and refugees can find step-by-step guidance on how to use their international education and professional experience in the United States or Canada in World Education Services (WES) Global Talent Bridge’s new Pathways e-guide series.

What are the Pathways e-guides about?

WES Global Talent Bridge created its new Pathways e-guide series to help skilled immigrants explore career and academic pathways in their professional fields. The guides offer practical information on the different educational pathways in each field, licensing and certification requirements for common field-specific careers, and career options that make the best use of transferable skills.

The e-guides provide sector-specific advice and resources on academic requirements, career options, and, when applicable, licensing and certification requirements. A one-stop source for strategies, support, and additional resources, the Pathways e-guides are helpful at every step of the journey toward professional success for skilled immigrants in the United States or Canada.

What fields do the Pathways e-guides cover?

So far, WES Global Talent Bridge has published Pathways e-guides for the fields of nursing and education. WES Global Talent Bridge plans to publish additional e-guides for internationally trained health care professionals in the coming months. Additional future topics include regulated fields like engineering and architecture, as well as unregulated fields like business, information technology, and the creative arts.

Like Career Pathways in Nursing, the upcoming e-guides will feature:

  • Strategies for achieving career success.
  • Helpful charts highlighting licensing and certification requirements.
  • Interactive worksheets and guides.
  • Success stories spotlighting the real-life professional pathways of skilled-immigrants.
  • Links to helpful resources in each field.

For more information on WES Global Talent Bridge’s Pathways, contact Mia Nacamulli mnacamul@wes.org.

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

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Labor Market Information Strategies: Wage and Benefit Negotiation

Labor Market Information (LMI) is an excellent source of national and state job market data that resettlement programs utilize to make informed decisions on employers, particular industries, and wages. LMI might seem complicated and overwhelming to jump into; however, the benefits to you and your clients are well worth the effort.  Here is an example from Atlanta.

Lutheran Services of Georgia

Lutheran Services of Georgia Matching Grant program has been using LMI to empower their job developers with knowledge and tools for self-sufficiency success. Job Developer Meron Daniel shows us how. Meron noticed that while most families in LMI’s Matching Grant Program are self-sufficient and are financially comfortable enough to pay their bills, many are  unable to save enough money to make major purchases such as a house or car, and may not have a financial cushion in case of an emergency. Thus, Meron explored ways to increase client wages.

Meron started by gathering information on pay and benefits from employers that were already hiring refugees. Then, she used LMI to compare that data to wages for the same industries in the Atlanta area.  Armed with this information, Meron was able to demonstrate to a potential hotel employer offering a starting wage of just $8.50 an hour, that other hotels were paying $9.50 to $10 per hour for the same position. As a result, the hotel came onboard at $11 an hour – clients are happy and the hotel is competitive with its peers and has improved employee retention. A win-win outcome for everyone.

Suggestions

When negotiating on behalf of clients, Meron advises having your pitch and LMI data ready, being transparent with the employer, highlighting all the costs a particular family may have, emphasizing the services your agency provides, and stressing how vital it is for the family to be self-sufficient. In Meron’s experience, Human Resource recruiters have been open to negotiations and may even use the LMI data to make the case for higher wages to their corporate bosses. Meron recommends that if an employer cannot immediately increase pay based on the LMI information, perhaps they will be willing to offer other employee benefits such as free transportation or expanded health care benefits.

Finding LMI for your area

Higher’s Guide to Labor Market Information tells you how to access specific LMI and offers specific examples on how to use the data in  negotiations. LMI databases, like CareerOneStop or O’NET, have tools available to find wage information for industries in particular areas. Additionally, each state has an LMI expert that is available to help create reports or answer questions.

How do you use labor market information when meeting with employers? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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Women Centered Employment Programming

Across the country, employment programs are engaging more women in their programs. Both PRM and ORR emphasize the need to provide full services to all adult case members. In addition to the usual barriers most refugees face, women may disproportionately face barriers such as access to childcare, lower levels of formal education, and cultural expectations regarding their role in the workplace. Still, there are powerful examples from across the country that highlight women being empowered through employment. For example, a group of women entrepreneurs in Phoenix, AZ are tackling obstacles they face and gaining new skills by selling homemade art, candles, body products, jewelry and more. Their pop-up store allows them to make short-term income and learn valuable business skills.

In Maryland, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) implements a program to provide women additional access to employment services.  IRC’s method is to increase access to classes through gender-specific services and continuing support beyond the initial employment services period.

“It’s not that women don’t want to be employed, it’s that the traditional [employment services] model may not fit their needs,” said Neisha Washington, IRC Maryland Youth and Women’s Employment Coordinator. “We wanted to design something that takes into account the challenges that families are finding as well as the specific barriers that women are facing.”

Neisha and her colleagues surveyed the agency’s female clients and found that nearly 100% want to work. However, many women need additional support and flexibility to balance work, education, and home life. The resulting IRC program is the Youth and Women’s Employment Program (YWEP), serving women in individual and group sessions as needed.

One way in which YWEP addresses self-sufficiency barriers while managing the resettlement process is by providing additional childcare support and long-term case management.

An additional training opportunity offered through YWEP is a women’s only class focused on career coaching, increasing confidence in self-promoting, and creating new social connections. YWEP encourages the women in the class to invite friends to expand social circles and provide grassroots support for those with limited English and work experience. IRC has found that the women’s class gives participants the opportunity to engage in more meaningful ways than in a general employment class.

Providing supplementary training programs centered on women like YWEP in Maryland and the women entrepreneurs group in Arizona can be significant to the long-term success of refugee women.

How does your agency ensure employment success for refugee women? Share your thoughts by emailing us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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Baltimore Healthcare Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are a valuable solution to creating a path for refugees to get started in a new field, upgrade a current position, or get back into a former field. The Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare (BACH) has created an apprenticeship program that provides an opportunity for just that. BACH seeks to create a pipeline of qualified frontline healthcare workers in the Baltimore area by collaborating with local employers and community colleges to provide training opportunities to interested individuals.

To engage refugee participants in the program, BACH collaborated with the International Rescue Committee Maryland (IRC) to provide an opportunity for refugees with higher levels of English, extensive education, or work history.

As part of their BACH apprenticeship, participants are paid and work part-time at an area hospital while completing on-the-job training and classroom training provided by Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC). The on-the-job training is competency-based, so not every participant is at the same level or moves through at the same speed. The program’s flexibility allows refugees with backgrounds in healthcare to progress through the training more quickly. As apprentices complete a designated set of competencies, they receive wage increases. Once participants complete their apprenticeship the hospital moves them into a full-time position.

The first apprenticeship cohort by BACH was for Environmental Care Supervisors at the renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital. The initial cohort includes four refugees.

The training starts at $15 an hour, with competency completions adding raises, and pay starting at $20.29 an hour for those who complete the program.

A new BACH apprenticeship program for Surgical Technologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center will launch in Spring of 2018. The program will follow a set full-time schedule with twice a week CCBC classroom work and three days in the hospital. Both of these apprenticeship program specialties provide refugees with backgrounds in healthcare an opportunity to re-enter the hospital environment without having to forgo work for school or having to pay tuition.

The BACH program is funded through the U.S. Department of Labor’s ApprenticeshipUSA program through the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation.

For those interested in starting a similar program, Janie McDermott, BACH Program Manager for Apprenticeship, suggests that the first step is to find employers that are on board and willing to be fully engaged.week CCBC classroom work and three days in the hospital. Both of these apprenticeship program specialties provide refugees with backgrounds in healthcare an opportunity to re-enter the hospital environment without having to forgo work for school or having to pay tuition.

For more information on BACH contact Janie McDermott at jmcdermott@baltimorealliance.org.

What kind of training or apprenticeship programs do you use for refugees? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org!

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