Webinar: Investing in Refugee Entrepreneurs

Join us May 17 at 1:00 PM EDT!

Studies show that refugee entrepreneurs, with community support and backing, contribute greatly to our local and national economies. In this webinar, Welcoming Refugees and Higher, an ORR technical assistance provider for refugee workforce development, will show you how to effectively communicate these contributions, support refugee entrepreneurs as part of your current work, and build greater community awareness and support.

In this webinar you will learn how to:

  • Communicate three ways that refugee entrepreneurs economically contribute to your community
  • Identify two ways that employment programs can support refugee entrepreneurs as part of your work
  • Articulate two concrete suggestions for ways that your organization can increase community awareness and support for refugee entrepreneurs

Featured Speakers:

  • Hannah Carswell, Program Manager, Welcoming America
  • Nicole Redford, Program Manager, Higher
  • Diego Abente, VP and Director of Economic Development Services, International Institute of St. Louis

REGISTER HERE NOW

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Models for Integrating Language and Workforce Development Skills

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to attend a 1-day conference at Johns Hopkins University’s American Institute for Contemporary German Studies in Washington D.C. The theme of the conference was “Integrating Migrants into the Workforce” and focused on immigrant integration efforts in both Germany and the U.S.

One of the most interesting presentations I heard was by Dr. Heidi Wrigley from Literacy Work International. The Presentation focused on models in the U.S. that are leading the way in offering both English instruction and vocational training.

Here are four models that Dr. Wrigley highlighted:

McDonald’s: English Under the Arches

English Under the Arches (EUA) is one of four Archways to Opportunities programs designed to help employees grow professionally.

The program launched in 2007 with the mission to provide English as a Second Language (ESL) classes that teach managers and crew the English they need to communicate effectively and confidently with customers, staff and in their lives outside of McDonald’s.

These classes are free for employees and they are also paid their hourly wage while they are in class. Helping non-native speakers learn English allows them to break down barriers and feel comfortable when communicating effectively with fellow team members, customers, and, most importantly, in their everyday life.

Proficiency in English is often a prerequisite for most jobs in the U.S. and provides mobility for individuals to pursue higher education opportunities, which in turn leads to increased earning power. To learn more about this program, visit the EUA webpage or read the most recent Archways to Opportunity Progress Report.

Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs: Ready to Work

Ready to Work (RTW) is a workforce development program in Seattle, WA designed for immigrants and refugees who face barriers to gaining employment.

The program combines English as a Second Language (ESL) classes with computer literacy instruction and case management to help immigrants gain job readiness skills and take steps toward economic self-sufficiency.

RTW was created as a prototype model of English language acquisition offered in a community-based setting, and focused on career development, and employment. Classes meet four days a week, three hours a day, for a total of 12 hours per week.

Instruction is provided by two Seattle Colleges and Literacy Source (a community-based adult education provider). Unlike many other programs, RTW tracks participants’ progress over a longer time frame than conventional funding streams typically allow.

For more details, see National Skills Coalition’s Amanda Bergson-Shilcock’s blog post from June 2016: Ready to work: Seattle creates new on-ramp for immigrant English learners.

Washington State: I-BEST

Washington’s Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training Program (I-BEST) quickly teaches students literacy, work, and college-readiness skills so they can move through school and into living wage jobs faster.

Pioneered by Washington’s community and technical colleges, I-BEST uses a team-teaching approach.

Students work with two teachers in the classroom: one teacher provides job-training and the other teaches basic skills in reading, math or English language.

Students get the help they need while studying in the career field of their choice. The I-BEST program offers several career pathways including Hospitality, Manufacturing and Nursing.

I-BEST challenges the traditional notion that students must move through a pre-determined sequence of basic education or pre-college (remedial) courses before they can start working on certificates or degrees.

The combined teaching method allows students to work on college-level studies right away, clearing multiple levels with one leap.

Check out this video, which features three students sharing their experience with the I-BEST model:

OneAmerica’s English Innovations

English Innovations (EI) is a blended social learning model that integrates English language learning and combines a collaborative, supportive classroom environment with online tools that enable self-paced, independent learning.

Offered as an alternative approach to conventional systems of language instruction which often do not provide the flexibility and resources that adult immigrants need, the EI program includes:

  • Tailored curriculum framework integrating digital literacy skills & language development
  • Blended model for in-class and self-paced learning through online tools and game-based learning
  • A collaborative classroom environment which facilitates cognitive, social and emotional engagement
  • Tutor-facilitated activities, volunteer involvement, and peer support
  • A model grounded in communities, engaging immigrants and immigrant-serving organizations in advocacy for effective English learning and immigrant integration

How do you see ESL and Vocational Training intersecting in your area? Are you aware of an innovative model that we should highlight? Let us know at information@higheradvantage.org.

*Note: Some language in this post was pulled directly from program websites for the purpose of accurately describing these programs.

 

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New Mapping Tool from IMPRINT

Looking for resources and partners that can help you serve highly skilled refugees? Our friends at IMPRINT recently released an interactive map that allows you to see what organizations and resources are available for skilled immigrants in your area and nationally.

The tool also provides state-by-state data about college educated foreign-born individuals, based on 2015 American Community Survey data.

Explore this awesome tool by clicking on the map below:

 

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Webinars This Week: Refugee Legal Rights & Career Tips for Skilled Immigrants

There are two webinars this week that you or your clients may be interested in. The first webinar is on Wednesday evening, and will share important information designed to help refugees, asylees and SIV recipients understand their rights in the U.S. The second webinar is on Thursday afternoon, and will share essential strategies that skilled immigrants with foreign credentials can use to advance in their careers.

Here is the information for each webinar:

Photo: www.mirovni-institut.si/

What Does it Mean to be a Refugee in the U.S.? Refugee Legal Rights Discussion Post-Election

Wednesday, January 18, 2017, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM EST

Upwardly Global, in collaboration with the International Refugee Assistance Project, is organizing a virtual webinar to educate the refugee, asylee and SIV populations as well as interested community members about refugee rights and their eligibility as U.S. residents. Please join us in the discussion about what it means to be a refugee, asylee and/or SIV; how to protect oneself from discrimination and how to create more welcoming communities for refugees. To register, click here.

Photo: BEWFAA/The Washington Post

10 Essential Tips for Career Success

Thursday, January 19th, 2017, 2:00 p.m. EST

Over the past year, WES Global Talent Bridge in the US and Canada have shared resources and methods on helping skilled immigrants succeed in their journey to continue their careers using credentials from abroad. As we begin the new year, we will revisit webinars and events hosted in 2016 and share key messages as well as resources that skilled immigrants need to consider as they work to integrate professionally in their new country. To register, click here.

 

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Alternative Pathways for Highly Skilled Refugees

Source: https://www.uaf.nl/english

Source: https://www.uaf.nl/english

While many professional fields in the U.S. require licensure, refugees from professional backgrounds who are not immediately able to pursue these credentials don’t necessarily need to be stuck in low-level jobs.

A recent post by our friends at WES Global Talent Bridge shares some fantastic alternative career pathways that highly skilled refugees (and those who work with them) may want to explore, whether they are working towards licensure or just looking for work that is related to their skills.

Here’s a few options they recommend:

  • Accountants can analyze budgets and costs for institutions without a certified public accountant (CPA) license.
  • Engineers or architects who are not lisenced can still work in technical, advisory, and management positions related to engineering projects.
  • Healthcare Professionals have many options including administration, community health, and research. In addition short-term training programs such as CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) or Phlebotomist certification can be a good entry point.
  • Lawyers can work as paralegals, and may be able to advise on foreign law as a foreign legal consultant (FLC)
  • Social workers and psychologists can find work as community workers in non-profits and schools.
  • Teachers can sometimes work as substitutes, or even full-time teachers at private and charter schools. Many states also offer alternate routes to certification or licensure (e.g. New York City Teaching Fellows, Teach for America, etc.)

While newly arrived refugees will likely need assistance identifying and accessing the alternative pathways, the opportunities are there. Some refugee employment programs around the country are hiring dedicated staff or mobilizing volunteers that specialize in identifying opportunities and facilitating networking and career mentorship for highly skilled refugees. This is emerging as a best practice in serving this unique subset of newly arrived refugees.

To read the WES Global Talent Bridge article in its entirety, click here!

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How to Get Refugees to Living-Wage Work

Guest post from Alicia Wrenn, Assistant Director for Integration at LIRS 

I had the opportunity to attend a Forced Migration Upward Mobility Project (FMUMP) workshop on October 16th in New York City where Dr. Faith Nibbs presented her report Moving into the Fastlane: Understanding Refugee Mobility in the Context of Resettlement. It is great reading and gives us much to think about to improve employment outcomes for clients. One of the main goals of FMUMP is to assist refugees (and employment practitioners), to find jobs that pay a living-wage as defined generally as $5 over the minimum, but it will vary based on the market.

Her team did research in the Dallas and Ft. Worth communities over a period of 2.5 years. They interviewed refugees, employment staff, and scholars – 350 in total.  And they observed 300 hours of service provision and reviewed all available data and literature on the topic.

moving-into-the-fastlane With targeted skills training it took just over one year to break the living wage threshold. The study found this to be the single greatest impact on wages. This was true for all the sub-populations – including highly skilled, low skilled, for men, and for women. Dr Nibbs went through a Return on Investment calculation that showed the net effect when making these wage gains – the savings on government assistance (Food Stamps etc.), plus the increased taxes paid by the refugee at the new wage, and that weighed against the cost of job skills training of approximately $3,000 per person. The ROI to the government is about 600%. So the investment by the government in skills training makes good sense.  

This teaches us a couple of things. Employment teams should be looking for job skills training for clients from all possible sources – government, community college, and company-led – now knowing this is the single biggest influencer. The study found it to be more important than the general English language training that is available. They discovered that the typical ESL that occurs for a few hours per week and teaches general conversation has less of an impact. See the report for interesting ways to improve this instruction such as an on-line platform for more cumulative hours, and the very positive effect of tailoring the vocabulary instruction to the work place. 

Dr. Nibbs had thoughts about other issues undermining living wage attainment. It was discovered that refugee clients are not given an understanding that while yes they need to take the first job, there are certain industries that are much more financially rewarding and will pay a living wage. This research has shown that clients by and large had no idea that they would never make ends meet nor advance up the pay scale in certain sectors. It was thought that Case Managers themselves might not be aware of this hierarchy of earning potential by industry sector.

There are a few interesting pilots occurring to address these gaps. The Office of Refugee Resettlement has funded a Career Navigator position in the State of Washington to determine if this can create a bridge for better placements and better information conveyed to refugees. IRC has five Career Development sites that provide to refugees targeted career training one year after arrival for those unemployed. There should be some interesting learnings down the road.

The report is here –  http://www.fmump.org/ – on the home page there is an option to download. 

You may also be interested in checking out Dr. Nibbs’ presentation at Higher’s Second Annual Refugee Employment Conference, which took place in Omaha, NE in November, 2015: http://higheradvantage.org/second-annual-refugee-employment-workshop-resources/ .

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Coming Soon: ORR’s Refugee Career Pathways Program

carreerWant to know what funding opportunities are planned at ORR and HHS?  Check out forecast and RFP announcements.

Of particular interest to employment is an upcoming new competitive grant application process for The Refugee Career Pathways (RCP) Program.

Here’s how the official forecast announcement describes the new opportunity in HHS-2017-ACF-ORR-RC-1224.

“Through the RCP Program ORR will provide funding to implement projects assisting refugees to qualify for licenses and certifications necessary to attain employment and improve self-sufficiency. Allowable activities will include case management, training and technical assistance, specialized English language training, and mentoring. Grantees may also provide refugee participants with financial assistance for costs related to the establishment or re-establishment of credentials, such as obtaining educational credits or enrollment in required certification programs. Grantees are encouraged to collaborate with professional associations, universities, and others with expertise in this area to facilitate career opportunities in ways that supplement, rather than supplant, existing services.”

You can read more about the projected timing, eligibility and funding available via this summary from grantstation, too.  Start building partnerships with American Job Centers and other mainstream workforce stakeholders now to be ready to submit a competitive proposal next year.

 

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5 Types of Jobs in Growth Industries

GrowthToo busy to think about new employers or job options?  Need more job openings to use with all the clients on your case load?

Three articles from Forbes and the Department of Labor blog highlight good jobs that don’t require a degree or the fastest growing jobs in the U.S. right now.

Here’s a synthesis of the 5 types of jobs most relevant for refugee job seekers.

1. Foreign language interpreter made two of the lists with a 29% growth rate.

2. Health care-related jobs were the majority of all three lists.  Jobs ranged from Home Health Aid to Registered Nurse.

Jobs you might not have thought of:  Audiologist, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Physical Therapy Assistant and Hearing Aide Specialist.

3.  Ambulance driver (30% growth rate) requires a CDL with a passenger waiver and sometimes CPR certification.

4. Many of the non-degree jobs relate to the housing industry.  All kinds of construction skilled labor were included.

Jobs you might not have thought of:  Building Inspector, Insurance Sales, Property Management and Real Estate Agent.

5.  Just for fun, three unusual jobs made the lists: Photogrammatist/Cartographer, Genetics Counselor and Wind Turbine Service Technician.

Got  time to learn more?  Click these three links (one, two and three) to explore the source articles or read about prospecting techniques that work in a previous Higher post.

 

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Coursera for Refugees: Here NOW

courseraCoursera and the Department of State have partnered to offer Coursera for Refugees as part of a larger White House private sector engagement initiative.

Read more in a previous Higher post or in a recent article in U.S. News if you aren’t already excited about the opportunity this presents for refugees.

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 5.10.21 PMHere is a link to the landing page for Coursera for Refugees.

At a glance – and in the screen shot from the portal on the right – you will see how to sign up and the benefits of doing so. There is a separate link to sign up for the Global Translator Community for volunteer interpreters to help translate Coursera courses into refugee languages.

Where to Start?

Higher strongly recommends that you first open the application, which includes additional information you’ll need in order to consider how your agency will proceed.  Here are three important points we learned by reviewing the application.

1. There are minimum client requirements for eligibility.  Organizations with fewer than 50 refugees with middle- to high-skills and the ability to complete courses in English will not be eligible for financial aid for organizations.  It might make sense to explore with other agencies in your community or at the national resettlement agency level.  You could also consider promoting individual financial aid for qualified refugees instead.

2. Technology access is required.  Internet connectivity and IT resources are required to participate and to afford meaningful access. That doesn’t mean that you have to have a computer lab to participate.  You might partner with a library, Goodwill computer lab or other community resource.  Refugees might have their own technology and connectivity, too.  Coursera courses are mobile optimized.

3. After 12 months, there may be costs to continue.  There is a modest reporting commitment and the financial aid expires after 12  months.  This means it’s important to develop a plan before you apply, so you make the best use of the 12 month access period.

Get in touch at information@higheradvantage.org if you are already making plans or have an organizational financial aid package already. We really want to hear how this looks on the ground.

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10 Tips to Turn an Entry Level Job into a Better Opportunity

career-progress-graphic-23844825Talking Points to Build Job Retention and Advancement

Helping clients keep their jobs and even position themselves for internal advancement is important. That client conversation often gets overshadowed by the thrill (and relief) of that first placement.

Here are 10 talking points you can use with clients.  They are collected from employers, peer experience and social media guru Guy Kawasaki.

1. Get the basics right. Know your job and do it well. Ask questions to learn and show that you care about doing well. U.S. employers expect you to take responsibility for your own success and job training. 

2. Dress the part – for the job you want, not the one you have.  This is a bit difficult when the job requires a uniform. Practicing excellent hygiene and grooming is a good first step.  If you come in out of uniform to pick up your check or attend a meeting, dress up a little.

3.  Know the leaders and decision-makers in the company.  Remember faces and names and use them in greetings.  This should include your colleagues, the “big bosses” and important or frequent customers.

4.  Be on time.  Always.  And don’t forget that on time in U.S. work culture means be early.

5.  Let people get to know you.  You’re on trial when you’re new. Be courteous and friendly and build relationships slowly. Speak in a calm tone of voice that people can hear. Use your English.

6.  Self Start.  When you know what to do in your job, do it without waiting for someone to tell you. If you see a problem or some work to be done, take the initiative to propose a solution or just do it.

7.  Say “Yes”.  When your boss asks you to do something you understand and can do, tell them, “yes, I will do it.” Accept any opportunity to learn and show that you are ready to work hard and learn how to do new things.

8.  No Social Media.  Do not check your phone, accept calls, text or type on your phone during your work time. If you have a specific family emergency or important call, you can inform your boss and get special permission. This should not happen often.

9.  Improve your English.  Practice with your colleagues. Make time to learn more in a class or on-line. Be sure your boss knows and can hear that you are committed to learning. Employers site lack of English as the number one reason refugees are not promoted.

10. Tell them you are interested.  Your boss will not know that you want to learn, grow and get a promotion unless you tell them. Tell them and also show them through your performance.

How do you coach clients to encourage job retention and career success in their first job? Comment on this post or write us at information@higheradvantage.org with your tips for clients.

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