Simple Strategies to Address Common Barriers, Part 5

Unrealistic ExpectationsAt 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 past several weeks, we’ve been sharing insights from your Maryland peers, focusing on simple and practical strategies that are relatively easy to implement!

So far, we’ve shared tips for overcoming challenges including transportationchildcare, limited English proficiency (LEP), and challenges related to digital literacy/computer access.  Today we’ll wrap up this series and share a few tips on overcoming the barrier of unrealistic client expectations.

Tips for Managing Expectations:

  • Educate yourself on the information clients receive during pre-arrival cultural orientation (CO) so that you can reinforce important points and/or present new information that may not have been covered in the overseas CO (See Adjusting Expectations: The Cultural Orientation Connection, a recent Higher post by Daryl Morrissey, Cultural Orientation Coordinator at LIRS).
  • Collaborate with R&P cultural orientation staff to make sure that messaging around employment is consistent.
  • Consistent messaging with within office among staff- have a team strategy for how you will handle client expectations.
  • Connect with community leaders to encourage consistent messaging within communities.
  • Set expectations early- have honest conversations about appropriate expectations.
  • Highlight the benefits of two-income households and ensure equality of services to both spouses.
  • Walk the line of hopeful realism. Emphasize the importance of taking that initial survival job while also recognizing the skills, experience and education, your clients bring, and laying out a path and timeline for how they can pursue a fulfilling career over time. Develop short, medium, and long term goals with clients.
  • Mobilize mentors (including former refugees) who will help support clients by giving them realistic expectations and a sense of hope.
  • Educate clients about training programs and career development options.

For more on managing expectations see:

Managing Expectations: When Will You Find Me a Job?

Creative, Participatory Employment Plans that Work

Help Highly Skilled Refugees Look Out the Windshield

Feel free to participate in the conversation by leaving a comment below or sending us an email at information@higheradvantage.org.

New Collection of Employment Volunteer Resources

volunteersRemember last week’s Reader Question from Jenny Barischoff, who is starting a refugee resettlement program in Salem, OR?  You contributed so many helpful resources to support her important employment volunteer strategy that they deserve their own post.

Click here for all of the curriculums, forms and resources to help employment volunteers and mentors you contributed for Jenny.

In addition, also consider the employment volunteer program structure from Friends of Refugees in Clarkston, GA and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) employment mentoring guide.

Resources Beyond Volunteer Programs

Several resources give volunteers information to help clients prepare for interviews or complete job applications and online personality assessments. Others are designed to encourage volunteers to reinforce important messages clients hear from others in your agency.  This collection is well worth investigating to support other aspects of our work.

Thanks to World Relief DuPage/Aurora, Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego, CA, New American Pathways in Atlanta, GA, Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS), New Haven, CT and African Community Center of Denver, CO for helping Jenny – and all of us!

 

 

 

 

Free Employment Mentoring How To Guide

Shafiq 2If you are a regular reader of Higher’s blog, you may recall some stories from Lancaster, PA about an employment mentoring pilot project begun in 2013. As a program of LIRS, Higher has been involved in the pilot project that now includes two additional pilot sites in Atlanta, GA and Omaha, NE.

Throughout the initial pilot phase, I have watched each site adapt the model for their local environment and incorporate mentoring as a career advancement tool for refugees without a big burden on staff time or resources. The results have been meaningful for both mentees and mentors. Click here to read what Shafiqullah Jahish and Dan McCaster (pictured at right) learned and achieved from their mentoring experience in Omaha, NE.  

Together with all three implementing sites, LIRS has developed a how to guide for adopting a similar “Careers and Cnnections Employment Mentoring Project”.  Download a free copy of the guide from LIRS website.

Rebecca Armstrong Head ShotRebecca Armstrong has been a part of refugee employment technical assistance for more than 11 years, most recently as Director of Higher. Many of you have worked with Becca and will join Higher in wishing her well as she leaves Higher and LIRS to become the Executive Director of a civil rights and arts empowerment organization based in Selma, Alabama. Higher/LIRS employment mentoring project is the most recent practical refugee employment resource we will all continue to use going forward. Thanks, Becca, we’ll miss you.