How Can Volunteers and Small Donors Support Your Career Advancement Programs?

Many programs across the country have reported seeing an increase in community and donor support over the past year. Frequently, offices ask Higher about the best ways to use new volunteers and donors to amplify their employment programs. Higher has found two ideas to make the most of volunteers and small donations.

  1. Co-sponsorship

Many agencies already have strong resettlement co-sponsorship models, however, with the decrease in new arrivals, co-sponsorship groups remain on a wait list. Some agencies replicated their model to pair co-sponsors with refugees who have been living in the U.S. for a few months and are ready to take on career advancement. Volunteer co-sponsors are great for assisting clients who are navigating career advancement and small donations can help refugees return to school, pay for re-licensing fees or exams, or even purchase a vehicle so they can increase their job search radius.

  1. Micro-lending

A small amount of money can go a long way for programs working to secure better jobs for their clients. Consider using donor money to create a small micro-lending program. Whether you begin with $5,000, $10,000 or more, the money can go a long way on a refugee’s journey towards returning to a previous career or securing a better paying occupation.

At USCRI of North Carolina, they utilize small donations to feed a small micro-lending pool of money. Clients who enroll in USCRI of NC’s Career Enhancement Opportunities, or career advancement program have access to the funding. Clients are able to borrow up to $2,000 to use towards obtaining a higher paying job and do not have to repay the loan until their new job has been secured. Like most micro-lending programs, USCRI of NC has a very high repayment rate at 98%. When clients repay the money, they know they will be helping another person on their career pathway.

Learn more about USCRI’s career advancement program here or listen to Higher’s webinar: How to Design and Measure a Successful Career Advancement Program .

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Educating Your Clients on Their Rights Regarding Workplace Harassment

What constitutes unlawful harassment?

Harassment is a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

Harassment becomes unlawful when 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.

Where to file a complaint?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency to call if your clients experience discrimination or harassment in the workplace. The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. A person can file a complaint with the EEOC when their workplace becomes what is considered to be hostile. “Hostile” means intimidating, offensive, abusive and/or otherwise offensive, going beyond rudeness or casual joking. To qualify as a “hostile” workplace, conduct must be intentional, severe, recurring, and/or pervasive to the extent that it interferes with the employee’s ability to perform his or her job.

A complaint must be filed online or over the phone before meeting in person at your local EEOC office. When filing a complaint, it is always helpful if clients bring to the meeting any information or papers that will help EEOC understand their case. For example, if a client was fired because of their performance, he or she might bring in a recent performance evaluation, as well as the letter or notice stating that he or she was fired. If possible, the client may also want to bring the names and contact information of anyone who knows about the incident or ongoing harassment.

The client can bring third parties, such as family members or friends, to this meeting, and should do so especially if he or she needs language assistance. Alternatively, if the client needs special assistance during the meeting, such as a sign language or a language interpreter, let the EEOC office know ahead of time so it can make arrangements. The client can also bring a lawyer, although it is not necessary to hire a lawyer to file a charge.

Please note, an employer must have a certain number of employees to be covered by the laws enforced by the EEOC. This number varies depending on the type of employer (for example, whether the employer is a private company, a state or local government agency, a federal agency, an employment agency, or a labor union) and the kind of discrimination alleged (for example, discrimination based on a person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information). Figuring out whether or not an employer is covered can be complicated. If you aren’t sure about whether coverage exists, you should contact your local EEOC office as soon as possible and they will make that decision. It is also important to keep in mind that, if an employer is not covered by the laws EEOC enforces, the employer still may be covered by a state or local anti-discrimination law. If it is, EEOC can refer you to the state or local agency that enforces that law.

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Introduction to Government Run Youth Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are structured training programs that give youth a chance to work towards a career-related qualification and are a great pathway to a higher-paid, skilled job. Apprenticeships help students gain the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a chosen industry. Youth apprenticeships prepare high school students with a combination of classroom instruction and paid on-the-job training. These apprenticeships are usually a partnership between state or local government, the local school system, and employers in the local community.

Apprenticeships offer significant advantages for youth:

  • Immersion — Entry-level workers have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the work environment for which they are preparing.
  • Academic Credit — Some apprenticeships may have direct agreements with post-secondary institutions, such as community colleges, for academic credit.
  • Cash — An apprenticeship is also paid employment. Therefore, students who need to earn a wage while learning can greatly benefit from this approach.

What Are Some of the Challenges of Youth Apprenticeships?

There are a few challenges associated with apprenticeship programs. They can be difficult to set up and may involve bureaucratic work; building a program might take years and will require strong partnerships. Industries do not always see the benefits of a youth specific apprenticeship, choosing instead to focus on adults with established work histories. Some industries, such as construction, have very volatile ebbs and flows that can make steady employment more difficult. Finally, most apprenticeships are not geared towards workers with limited English proficiency.  Advocating for refugee clients who may wish to access apprenticeships and utilizing youth programs like Job Corps, which includes on-site training and education may help to combat these challenges.

With today’s vibrant and competitive workforce, greater levels of preparation are required for young people to successfully access opportunities that pay living wages and withstand the pressures inherent in our economy. Apprenticeships may offer one solution to this challenge.

For more information on youth apprenticeships or apprenticeships in general follow:

Youth with Disabilities Entering the Workplace through Apprenticeship, Career Begins with Assessment, and the U.S. Department of Labor website for apprenticeship.

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The Immigrant and Employee Rights Hotline for I-9 and E-Verify Violations

Higher is seeing an increase in offices reporting issues with new employers being extra cautious about verifying a new hire’s employment authorization. When establishing a relationship with a new employer, it is best for employment staff to accompany their clients and act as a hiring guide for both parties. It is essential to know that a client has the right to present any combination of documents listed on form I-9 and that it is illegal for an employer to solicit documents from clients beyond I-9 requirements.

If you or your clients are having trouble with the onboarding process due to documentation issues, you can contact the Immigrant and Employee Rights (IER) Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. This agency enforces the antidiscrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Immigration and Nationality Act

This federal law prohibits:

  • discrimination due to citizenship status or national origin in
    • hiring,
    • firing,
    • or recruitment;
  • unfair documentary practices during the
    • employment eligibility verification,
    • Form I-9
    • and E-Verify;
  • and retaliation or intimidation

In job readiness training, be sure to provide clients with the IER worker hotline (1-800-255-7688) and encourage self-reporting outside of resettlement services, when necessary. The hotline provides interpretation services upon request.

Want to practice your knowledge of I-9? The Employee Rights Interactive Quiz is great for staff and job readiness training!

For further questions surrounding worker’s rights, see Higher’s blog post on Worker’s Rights Review.

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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.

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Don’t forget Higher’s Webinars!

Each year Higher develops professional webinars for the field of refugee employment. Each webinar reflects a theme trending in refugee employment. Check out the “Resources” section of our website to access the recordings. Below are links to webinars from Fiscal Year 2018, which cover how to design and measure a career advancement program, utilizing labor market information to maximize your job development, and case management efforts.

  1. Higher Presents: How to Design and Measure a Successful Career Advancement Programwas presented on June 26, 2018. This webinar features guest speakers from USCRI of North Carolina and ORR’s technical assistance provider for monitoring and evaluation, (IRC’s META).

 

  1. Higher Presents: A Guide to Labor Market Information for Refugee Employmentpresented March 27, 2018. Higher announces the publication of the guide to Labor Market Information (LMI) and how it can be used to maximize employment outcomes. Listen to the recorded webinar on LMI and the official release of the LMI guidebook. This includes a discussion with a refugee employment manager who reviewed and implemented the Higher LMI guide in the field and a Bureau of Labor Statistics LMI state representative from the State of Maryland.

 

Past webinars can be found, free to all, on Higher’s Online Learning Institute. Once you register with a username and password, you will have access to webinars, publications, and 16 online learning modules to further your professional development.

Would you or your office like to receive additional training from Higher? Please write to us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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The Merits of a Skill-Based Resume for Refugee Clients

Recently, Higher has received many inquiries about how to write resumes for refugees with significant gaps in employment. In addition to the traditional chronological resume, there is an alternative method for producing professional resumes with clients.

A functional skill-based resume focuses on skills and experience, rather than on chronological work history. It is typically used by job seekers who are changing careers, have gaps in their employment history, or whose work history is not directly related to the job. This type of resume de-emphasizes employment information and allows a candidate to show the most relevant skills and abilities without bringing attention to employment gaps, frequent job changes, terminations, or an atypical professional background.

It is important to note that because many employers are accustomed to the traditional chronological resume, some employers are not as familiar with the format of a functional resume. However, for many refugees, a skill-based resume may be the best option and a successful way for a client to find employment. Be sure to notify employers about the merits of this type of resume for your clientele, the more skill-based resumes an employer sees from your clients the more acclimatized they will become to this type of resume.  As a client gains more experience in the U.S., the resume can be adapted into a more traditional model.

How Should a Skill-Based Resume Be Formatted?

To determine the best way to format a skill-based resume, first consider the main requirements listed in the job description. The objective is to arrange the resume in an accessible way that highlights the applicant’s attributes.

Example 1 (see below) illustrates a typical skill-based approach. It includes multiple skills sections with bulleted examples that prove competencies for each respective skill. Notice that employment details, such as the job title, company name, location, and dates of employment, are not included in these sections. As in a regular resume, try to add as much detail as possible for each bullet.

After the skills section, draft a brief work history section more commonly referred to as a professional profile section (see Example 2: Nancy Confidential). No bullet points are necessary in this section; only include the company name, job title, employment dates, and the city and state of the organization. Include volunteer positions (see Example 3), internships, or other relevant experience in this section, but remember that everything listed needs professional value. The skill-based resume highlights clients’ strengths until they gain work experience in the U.S.

                         (Example 3)

 

Do you create skill-based resumes for your clients? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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Do your clients have 21st Century literacy skills needed for today’s workforce?

“The driving force for the 21st century is the intellectual capital of citizens,” the Metiri Group Twenty-First Century Skills.

The term “21st-century skills” is generally used to refer to certain core competencies such as collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving that advocates believe adults need to know in order to thrive in today’s world.

As technology expands and society shifts, literacy expands to include much more than reading and writing. Information and communication technologies are raising the bar on the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century. Technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, demanding that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies. These literacies are multiple, dynamic, and malleable.

Refugees seeking for job upgrades and forging career pathways should consider their competency in these 21st century skills in their planning.

Digital-age literacy encompasses:

  • Basic literacy: The ability to read, write, listen and speak as well as to compute numbers and solve problems
  • Scientific literacy: A general knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes
  • Economic literacy: An understanding of basic economic concepts, personal finance, the roles of small and large businesses, and how economic issues affect them as consumers and citizens
  • Technological literacy: An understanding about technology and how it can be used to achieve a specific purpose or goal
  • Visual literacy: Visualization skills and the ability to understand, use, and create images and video using both conventional and new media
  • Information literacy: The ability to find, access, and use information as well as the ability to evaluate the credibility of the information
  • Cultural literacy: The ability to value diversity, to exhibit sensitivity to cultural issues, and to interact and communicate with diverse cultural groups
  • Global awareness: An understanding of how nations, individuals, groups, and economies are interconnected and how they relate to each other

Refugee clients have both advantages and disadvantages in accessing these literacies. For example, refugees are versed in more than one culture and interact cross-culturally based on their forced migration. However, they may not have had opportunities to increase their information or computer literacy. Introducing computers in job readiness classes or referring clients to basic computer classes are some ways to grow refugees’ 21st century literacy skills. Using volunteers and donations, resettlement agencies can seek computers to set up volunteer taught computer labs or to give directly to clients as a way to provide digital literacy.

Do you work with employers who value 21st Century Skills? How do you introduce 21st century skills to your clients? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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META Needs Your Feedback

Guest Post

Please take this short survey to help the Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Assistance (META) Project improve its services and resources! The survey will require approximately 10 minutes to complete.

The META Project is designed to strengthen the capacity of ORR-funded refugee service providers to collect, manage, analyze and use data to make informed decisions that will improve services and results for resettled refugees and other populations of concern in the U.S. The META Project’s design includes an annual external evaluation to help ORR and the META team understand the extent to which the project has been effective in achieving its intended outcomes; the quality and usefulness of different program components (individualized technical assistance, online learning resources, active learning opportunities, etc.); and how M&E TA could be improved. This survey is part of that evaluation.

This survey is intended for US-based, ORR-funded organizations. It is not intended for individuals seeking refugee status or organizations working with displaced populations outside the US.

For more information about META, visit www.METASupport.org or email META@Rescue.org.

Click Here to take the survey

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Classifying Refugees as Dislocated Workers under WIOA

Today’s blog explores leveraging federal funding available for “dislocated workers” to support refugee career pathways.

What is WIOA

Under federal legislation called Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA), the Department of Labor brought together all of its agencies and programs in one-stop career service centers, American Job Centers, to assist any youth or adult in the US who is unemployed or underemployed. WIOA programs and activities are available to citizens and nationals of the United States, lawfully admitted permanent resident aliens, refugees, asylees, and parolees, and other immigrants authorized by the Department of Homeland Security to work in the United States. WIOA also includes the Adult and Dislocated Worker programs, providing participants with career services and training, such as resume assistance, job search assistance, career counseling, and supportive services like child care or transportation assistance. A complete description of these services is in the WIOA regulations Training and Employment Guidance Letter 03-15.

Refugees as Dislocated Workers

Read the federal definition of dislocated workers in the box to the left. In March 2017, the US Department of Labor stated that individual states may change their definition of dislocated workers within their WIOA state plans to include individuals whose job dislocation occurred outside the US.  For example, the state of Maryland amended its definition of dislocated workers in 2016 to include refugees. Thus, in Maryland, refugees can now self-attest the date and location of their dislocation. Contact your state’s Workforce Development Boards (WDB) to discover the benefits dislocated workers have in your state and if your state includes refugees in its definition of a dislocated worker.

How the State of Idaho Identifies Refugees as Dislocated workers

In Idaho, Global Talent Idaho works with WIOA staff in determining client’s eligibility and classify refugees as dislocated workers. Refugees who do not have the usual documentation (a letter signifying a layoff) for enrollment as a dislocated worker are assigned to a career planner to provide a registrant statement documenting the date of dislocation and reasons for the lack of the usual documentation.

To learn more about Idaho’s process, please read their Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act Technical Assistance Guide: Adult and Dislocated Worker Eligibility.

The states that currently define refugees as Dislocated Workers, include:

For more information

For a list of WIOA programs nearest you, contact an American Jobs Center, Career One Stop or call ETA’s toll-free helpline at (877) US-2JOBS (TTY: 1-877-889-5267). Services are designed to meet local needs and may vary from state to state. Services for dislocated workers have eligibility requirements. Check with your State Dislocated Worker Unit for details.

To learn more about WIOA see Higher’s previous resources:

Webinar

Collaborating with Mainstream Workforce Development and Taking Advantage of WIOA-funded Training Opportunities

Blogs

WIOA Youth Program Updates and Resources

Resource Post: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act State Plans

Workforce Collaboration Case Study: Connecting Refugees to WIOA-Funded Programs in Omaha

Bridging Access to Mainstream Workforce Resources: Rockford, Illinois

5 Easy First Steps to WIOA Opportunities

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