Refugee Employment in a Strong Economy

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported May 16, 2017 that unemployment levels are down for foreign-born workers in the U.S., shrinking from 4.9 percent in 2015 to 4.3 in 2016. That’s good news!

The reports also suggests, however, that foreign-born workers are more likely than native-born workers to be employed in service occupations and less likely to be employed in management, professional, and related occupations. For foreign-born workers, the median weekly earnings for full-time workers was $715 in 2016, compared with $860 for their native-born counterparts.

More career laddering services may be needed for refugees. As a network, we have an opportunity to capitalize on a strong economy by developing job upgrade programs that increase the economic security of refugee families. Whether your team is large or small, Higher is here to support you as you think about the next step for your clients.

Reach out to us and let us know how we can help!

To see the full report click here.

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Happy New Year!!

Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!

This year has been very challenging and stressful but as always employment staff remained resilient and rose to the challenge. We thank you for your service to you refugee and immigrant clients.If you need any employment assistance or just want to reach out, Higher is always here to support. Email predicted the following top 5 careers by 2017. Do you agree?

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Using Data to Drive Job Development

With such limited time and capacity, you’ve got to make the most out of the time you have for Job Development.

Back in February, we highlighted some online industry research tools available on that can help Job Developers be strategic about what industries they pursue by looking at local labor market information such as fastest growing occupations, most total job openings and occupations with the largest employment.

We’ve recently come across a similar (though less extensive) resource that also presents labor market information, but in a format that is much more user-friendly and more visually appealing. provides a “graphic representation of occupation employment statistics.” The website was developed by SymSoft Solutions using open data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau, and provides insights on employment trends and salary information for various occupations.

This helpful website allows you to view big-picture information such as top industries across the nation, or filter search results by occupation group, specific occupation, state or metro areas. For example, here is what you get when you filter results for “Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations” in the San Diego – Carlsbad, CA area:

Where are the Jobs Visual

We hope that this tool as well as the resources available at will increase your ability to use your time wisely and strategically identify the best opportunities for your clients.

If you have any stories about how you’ve used data-driven strategies to drive your job development efforts we’d love to hear them. Share your story by emailing us at or by using the comments section below.



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Workforce Resource: Online Tool for Identifying Prospective Employers



Welcome to the second post in our series featuring some of the tools, resources and programs available in the mainstream workforce system, shaped by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and delivered through the national network of American Job Centers serving all U.S. job seekers.

It’s a complex, resource-rich system underutilized in refugee employment services. Higher is determined to change that so our clients benefit from new opportunities and employment services.

We’ll do the research you don’t have time for amidst managing client case loads and employer relationships.  You can focus on using highlighted resources to help your clients succeed in the U.S. workforce.

In our first post we highlighted The Department of Labor, Education and Training Agency’s Industry Competency Models, which provide detailed information as well as easy to understand visuals explaining the skills needed to advance in a variety of industries.

In this post, we’ll share another online resource that will give you valuable information about a variety of industries and help you identify local employers to target in your job development efforts.

Workforce Resource: Online Tool for Identifying Prospective Employers

The “Explore Careers” section of, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, offers several online tools including career profiles, detailed industry information, and occupation comparisons.

Explore Careers 2

Several useful tools for job development can be found on the “What’s hot” page under the “Learn about careers” category (see photo above). In this section you can run several reports including:

Using These Tools to Discover Prospective Employers and Pathways for Your Clients

One of the most helpful features of these reports is that they allow you to filter the results by education level (some high school up to master’s degree or higher). This feature can be used to find opportunities based on client’s education/skill level or to show clients the education that will be necessary to obtain to accomplish their career goals.

Select Education Level

Once you select which type of trends you want to see and the education level, you will get a list of occupations, which you can filter by state. This will give you a general idea of what industries might be worth pursuing in your region. Here’s an example of the Top 25 Fastest Growing Occupations from the state of Ohio for job seekers with an education level of “some high school”:


How You Can Find Thousands of Employers to Target!

From the list of occupations (above) you can click on the links to see Occupation Profiles which will give descriptions of the occupations and highlight national and state trends. To find actual employers to contact go to the dropdown menu in the top right hand corner and choose “Business Finder” which will redirect you to another page where you can search for businesses by occupation and city.

So let’s say you want to search for construction laborers in Columbus, OH. Here’s what you get:

Construction Laborers

4,021 employers to add to your prospecting list!

Do you need to expand your employer network and create some new opportunities for your clients? There is no better way to go about accomplishing this goal than to identify local industries that are growing, need people, and offer jobs that fit your clients’ skills and/or educational backgrounds.

This tool is a great place to start!

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Workforce Resource: Industry Competency Models

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 6.44.35 PM

Welcome to the first of a new blog post series featuring some of the tools, resources and programs available in the mainstream workforce system, shaped by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and delivered through the national network of American Job Centers serving all U.S. job seekers.

It’s a complex, resource-rich system underutilized in refugee employment services. Higher is determined to change that so our clients benefit from new opportunities and employment services.

We’ll do the research you don’t have time for amidst managing client case loads and employer relationships.  You can focus on using highlighted resources to help your clients succeed in the U.S. workforce.

Workforce Resource: Industry Competency Models

Career pathways for upward mobility in a particular sector or industry are built on a mix of soft skills and technical expertise gained through a combination of education, training and on the job experience.

The Department of Labor Education and Training Agency (DOL-ETA) has worked with a range of industry stakeholders to create 25 industry competency models in 10 industries, which are:

  1. Manufacturing,
  2. Health care/social assistance,
  3. Professional,
  4. Scientific and technical services (e.g. engineering),
  5. Energy/Utilities,
  6. Construction,
  7. Information (IT, Finance and Insurance),
  8. Accommodation and Food Services,
  9. Transportation and Warehousing,
  10. Retail Trades, and
  11. Other (Entrepreneurship)

You can access all of them through a web-based Clearinghouse that includes instructions, resources and examples of how they can be used. They are intended to identify industry needs and serve as resources for curriculum development and to develop programs to support career ladders in those industries.

Each of the models includes specific skill requirements for achieving lifelong career success in the featured industry, including specific management-level competencies.

A clickable link to ONet’s listing of occupational competencies is also included. Many of you already use ONet to research types of jobs within an industry, identify specific skill requirements employers want in qualified applicants and find concise language to include in client resumes.

Food Service Industry Example

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation contributed to the development of the Food Service Industry competency model.

This model includes expanded management-level skill requirements and you can also see career advancement pathways at a glance.

How You Can Use This Resource
Define Customer Service

Customer service is a common soft skill we talk about with clients in all kinds of job readiness activities. The competency models link to details of four specific customer service competencies (skills): Understanding customer needs, providing personalized service, acting professionally and keeping customers informed.

Demonstrate Career Ladders

Each competency model clearly outlines the required skills for success and advancement. For example, if a client doesn’t have those skills, yet, they can explore lower level career options or think about how to acquire the skills for future job upgrades. If you’re working to help higher skilled clients adjust their expectations, competency models will help them see how a starter job leads to the career they want. If client dreams are not fully informed by reality, they can quickly spot new skills they aren’t interested in and begin to understand that this career might not be the best fit for them.

Increasing the Results of Your Work

You can use the information to better understanding employer needs, craft better client resumes or applications and design job readiness training or in-house vocational training curriculums.

Showing these models to clients when you discuss their employability plans will add credible official information to reinforce what you tell them or give them a resource to learn more as they are ready for job upgrades or professional development.

Let us know if this new blog feature is useful for you and tell us how you were able to use it in your work at




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Using Labor Market Statistics

HPOG labor market

Exactly what you can learn from this report

Click here to download a great resource from the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families.

It will help you get better at this fundmental of our work.

Developed to support the Health Professional Opportunity Grants (HPOG) program, this resource is convincing, practical and accessible and will help you get better at this fundamental of of our work.

It combines the big picture of why labor market data is important with data sources, real life examples and practical steps you can take to develop, analyze and utilize several specific kinds of information.






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Long-term Labor Market Trends

Where the jobs areThe Harvard Business Review analyses long term hiring trends with five charts (click here) and analysis.

The bottom line is that economic recovery has not delivered enough jobs to match 2008 levels but certain sectors and industries have experienced steady growth.

Government is the top sector, followed by education and health services.  Growth in home health care jobs didn’t surprise me.  Lack of growth in information industry jobs did.

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Labor Market Analysis Webinar

Labor Market Webinar TourHigher Director Becca Armstrong will join ICF International, another ORR-funded technical assistance provider, to present a free webinar on “Understanding Labor Market Information” on Thursday, July 10th from 2 – 3:30 pm EDT.

The webinar wil discuss how to use labor market information and data to enhance employment and career pathway opportunities for refugees. We think it’s a great opportunity to learn from colleagues with expertise both inside and outside of our traditional refugee services networks.

You can register to attend by clicking this link.

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What Does This Data Mean for Employment Programs?


I suspect some of the findings in this report about immigrant economic contributions in Rhode Island are fairly representative across States.

I’m not sure what it suggests for our work.  If someone has ideas, it would be great to hear them.



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Diversity and the Value Add to Employers

Are your agencies promoting the strengths of diversity in the workplace? Are the employers you work with a set of values and principles that recognize diversity? Below are some value adds that refugees bring to the workplace and you can promote to employers.

Customer Focus – matching internal employee diversity to population diversity can provide performance benefits which enhance awareness of consumer needs.

Business Process – recruiting diverse talent will help inject new ideas and challenge the organizational mindsets and ways of doing things that can hinder change and organizational process.

Innovation – the flexibility, creativity, and ability to innovate are enhanced by the existence of dissimilar mindsets. Constructive conflict supports “out of the box” thinking.

Learning – employers have more choice from a greater skills base, improved employee satisfaction, and reduced internal disputes, greater workplace harmony, improved retention, and more effective and fairer promotion of talent. Knowledge is retained in the business and shared more effectively.

When working with a new employer, it is wise to consider the following:

Does the employer…. (Examine the company’s mission and value statements)

  • Have a set of values and principles that recognize diversity;
  • Demonstrate behaviors, attitudes, policies, and structures that enable them to work effectively cross-culturally and value diversity;
  • Conduct self-assessment to ensure sensitivity to cultural characteristics;
  • Commit to manage the “dynamics of difference;”
  • Learn about and incorporate cultural knowledge into their practices, and
  • Adapt to diversity and the cultural contexts of the communities they serve.

If the answer is yes, then the company will most likely be a good match for your clients.



Jonathan Lucus,

Director of Higher

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