At a recent Maryland-wide workshop which focused on refugee workforce development, Higher had participants do a brainstorming activity, in which groups worked together to list common barriers refugees face to employment as well as possible solutions.
These types of activities inevitably generate a “wish list” of solutions which are great ideas but not always in our power to implement quickly (e.g. adding staff members, ESL at work sites, home-based self-employment for refugee women).
While there are certainly times to pursue those big ideas, perhaps the best thing about exercises like this is that they allow groups to identify simpler solutions that can be implemented immediately.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll share some of these insights from your Maryland peers, focusing on simple and practical strategies that are relatively easy to implement! So far, we’ve focused on tips for overcoming transportation challenges and tips for overcoming childcare challenges. This week we’ll share a few tips on overcoming the barrier of Limited English Proficiency (LEP) challenges.
Tips for Overcoming LEP Challenges:
- Provide flexible ESL solutions: hold ESL classes at locations that are convenient for clients and/or offer classes at different times of the day so more clients can attend.
- Explore alternatives to traditional ESL class: have clients speak English at home, watch TV, listen to the radio or practice with a friend once a week.
- Develop relationships with ESL providers that offer classes at churches, libraries or community centers.
- Leverage technology: try free education apps like duolingo to encourage language acquisition for 21st century learners.
- Encourage your clients to work with you on this challenge, asking them to network within their community to explore solutions.
Stay tuned for more tips from MD refugee employment programs and stakeholders. Future barriers will include limited computer skills and unrealistic client expectations.
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