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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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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LSS/NCA Shares Career Advancement Employment Strategies

More often than not, the first job a refugee gets in the U.S. is only temporary, as its main purpose is to start generating income to cover living expenses. Many refugees are eager to return to a previous field or pursue other career opportunities, but there may be obstacles that stand in the way: the need for professional-level English, re-certification of degrees or licenses, and the lack of a professional network, to name a few. In this post, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSS/NCA) shares their two-pronged approach to assisting clients who are ready to embark on their career pathway.

  1. Utilizing Volunteers

Twice a month, a professional career coach volunteers with LSS/NCA to provide highly-skilled clients with training on writing resumes, cover letters, and job applications. LSS/NCA also has a growing list of career mentors with industry-specific expertise to provide staff and refugees with networking and other field-specific guidance. These volunteers utilize their own professional backgrounds to assist clients in navigating their chosen career path.

  1. Partnering With Local Service Providers

To address the barriers clients face when pursuing professional employment, LSS/NCA relies on their close partnerships with other community organizations that specialize in career advancement. One of these partnerships is with Your Edge for Success, a career coaching company that provides personalized career services and professional job seminars.

Connecting with American Job Centers and WIOA training programs provides additional routes for refugees to achieve their long-term goals. LSS/NCA partners with the local workforce development center to regularly provide information sessions featuring panelists from a variety of professions. LSS/NCA also has access to vocational training programs in the medical, accounting, and project management fields.

To provide networking support, LSS/NCA works with Northern Virginia Friends of Refugees, a network of faith communities, NGOs, businesses, and public agencies interested in assisting and connecting with refugees. The organization sponsors an annual networking event for refugees that features guest speakers and field professionals offering advice. Last year, the event drew over 100 refugees and SIVs.

Each of these partnerships build deeper connections between refugees and the local community, while providing critical career support to refugees beyond their initial job placement after arrival.

For more information on LSS/NCA’s employment work, contact Lauren Ressue at ressuel@lssnca.org.

To find training in your area, look at CareerOneStop’s Local Training Finder.

What career advancement opportunities do you provide for your clients? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org!

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Webinar Reminder: How to Design and Measure a Successful Career Advancement Program

Higher is pleased to announce an upcoming webinar on designing and measuring career advancement programs, in collaboration with the Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Assistance project of the International Rescue Committee.

Career advancement programs provide needed structure to refugees for career progression, helping them to make a plan for gaining the skills needed to increase their career options.

Many refugee resettlement agencies have existing services and support from community partners to enable them to provide career advancement programming. In this webinar, experts will walk participants through each piece of an employment program and offer guidance on how to better serve clients on their career advancement journey.

Participants will be able to understand the building blocks of successful career advancement programs as well as how to use data to demonstrate the impact of career advancement on clients, communities, and economies. The webinar will highlight a program in North Carolina that successfully transitioned to a job upgrade program. Additionally, Higher chose to collaborate with META, the data experts, in order to demonstrate how to measure your progress and determine the effect of this programming on clients.

Presenters:

Hannah Parkin, Case Manager and Job Developer with USCRI’s North Carolina Field Office

Meg Gibbon, Program Officer, Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Assistance (META)

When:

Tuesday, June 26th from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST

Please click here to register and join us for this exciting webinar.

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Higher Presents: How to Design and Measure a Successful Career Advancement Program

Higher is pleased to announce an upcoming webinar on designing and measuring career advancement programs, in collaboration with the Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Assistance project of the International Rescue Committee.

Career advancement programs provide needed structure to refugees for career progression, helping them to make a plan for gaining the skills needed to increase their career options.

Many refugee resettlement agencies have existing services and support from community partners to enable them to provide career advancement programming. In this webinar, experts will walk participants through each piece of an employment program and offer guidance on how to better serve clients on their career advancement journey.

Participants will be able to understand the building blocks of successful career advancement programs as well as how to use data to demonstrate the impact of career advancement on clients, communities, and economies. The webinar will highlight a program in North Carolina that successfully transitioned to a job upgrade program. Additionally, Higher chose to collaborate with META, the data experts, in order to demonstrate how to measure your progress and determine the effect of this programming on clients.

Presenters:

Hannah Parkin, Case Manager and Job Developer with USCRI’s North Carolina Field Office

Meg Gibbon, Program Officer, Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Assistance (META)

When:

Tuesday, June 26th from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST

Please click here to register and join us for this exciting webinar.

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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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Webinar Alert: Welcoming and Integrating Refugee Professionals

Thursday, March 8, 2018 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern

The refugee images from overseas emphasize war and poverty, leading many in the receiving community to think of refugees only in terms of their needs, rather than their many potential contributions. Few consider refugee professionals: the many doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, teachers, and others who make their way to the U.S. and work to rebuild not only their lives, but also their careers.

The Welcoming and Integrating Refugee Professionals webinar will help you consider how you can do more to maximize the potential of refugee professionals in their communities. This includes implications for the development of programs, strategic partnerships, and positive communications. We’ll explore who refugee professionals are, recommendations for service providers, innovative partnerships, and ways to communicate refugee professional success stories back out to a broader audience.

Featured Speakers

  • Katherine Gebremedhin, IMPRINT/WES
  • Nicole Redford, Higher

To register, click here.

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A Focused Approach on Job Upgrades and Skills Certifications

Bu* started as a counter and sorter at a laundry service company and over time earned a promotion within the company to reach a job that he loves in maintenance. Amal* came to the U.S. with an engineering degree from Iraq and is currently studying for the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam while working as a Civil Engineering Inspector.

These are just two of many client success stories from Laura Honeycutt, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in North Carolina (USCRI-NC) Employment Specialist. Laura helped launch a Career Enhancement Opportunities (CEO) program last year at USCRI-NC with funding from ORR’s Targeted Assistance Grant and private funders.  The CEO program provides targeted employment support for clients with professional experience and clients seeking job upgrades.

The CEO program has now been in operation for about a year, serving approximately 40 clients during that time. The program focuses on:

  • Job upgrades and raises: When clients have established a job history in the United States, USCRI-NC works with employers to see if clients are eligible for a promotion or wage increase at that company.
  • Career pathways to new certifications, re-certifications, and higher education opportunities: Some clients come to USCRI-NC with a specific training goal in mind and others learn about the opportunity as they talk through their career options.

Having a dedicated employment specialist to focus on job upgrades and highly skilled clients has provided additional one-on-one attention for a group of clients that can sometimes be overlooked.

Clients in the CEO program have seen successes, ranging from certification and placement in security guard positions to a promotion at Panera Bread. Another client is working at Cisco after earning recertification in Cisco Certified Network Associate and Cisco Certified Network Professional. Some CEO participants are becoming registered with the state as HVAC technicians, and several clients have earned their commercial driver’s licenses and are now work with trucking companies.

How does your team go above and beyond in seeking out job upgrades and serving highly-skilled clients? We’d love to hear at information@higheradvantage.org.

*Names changed to protect client privacy.

Post written by guest blogger Carrie Thiele

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Three Critical Factors for Developing Occupational Training Programs

How do you decide which refugee occupational training programs to develop when there are countless options?

Huda Muhammed, IRC Baltimore Program coordinator

Maryland has found a winning strategy that includes labor market evaluation, employer input, and consideration of client interests and past experience. ORR’s Targeted Assistance Program (TAP/TAG) grant is given by Maryland Office for Refugees and Asylees (MORA) to Baltimore City’s Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs (MIMA).

MIMA works with training program providers to ensure contextualized Vocational English language training (VELT)and industry-recognized credentials (where required by employers) are part of each program.

MIMA chose to subcontract a portion of its funding to the International Rescue Committee to provide industry recognized training programs, in addition to placement and case management services. The IRC is using the funding to partner with the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) and different vendors to provide medical front office, welding, and forklift training programs, all adapted for the refugee community.

The focus areas for these short-term occupational programs were chosen very carefully. Huda Muhammed, Program Coordinator at IRC, says, “The first thing I do when thinking about training in the Baltimore area is go to O*NET and research occupational growth projections, average salaries, and for potential employers in the area.”  The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) is under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration and is the nation’s primary source of occupational information. Muhammed then validates her data with local employers, she shares ideas on training programs, and she gauges employers’ interest in hiring training program graduates. This ensures training programs respond to real workforce needs.

A final step in the selection of trainings to develop is to “always look at the background of your clients and the jobs they’ve had before,” said Huda. Many of her clients have welding experience and were very interested in obtaining a welding program certification in the U.S., confirming that it was a solid training focus.

The process has paid off – the average wage for graduates of any of the training programs was more than $13 per hour in July 2017.

We’d love to hear about short-term occupational programs in your state. Email us at information@higheradvantage.org to share your story.

Guest post by Carrie Thiele.

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Webinar Alert: Post-Employment Services and Strategies for TANF Programs

August 2, 2017, 1:00 – 2:00 PM EST 

Post-employment services that align with individual’s interests, strengths, and abilities are necessary to ensure they can maintain or advance in employment. Unfortunately, many TANF participants tend to obtain low-skill/low-wage jobs with little room for advancement and can experience difficulty retaining jobs.

TANF programs strive to address this issue by offering a variety of post-employment education, training, and supportive services designed to help TANF families sustain long-term livable wage employment and occupational advancement. Given the significant flexibility TANF programs have in the type of post-employment support offered, these services vary across states and programs, depending on the needs of TANF participants.

This interactive webinar will highlight how TANF programs continue to support TANF participants post-employment through a variety of approaches.

Register here.

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