Higher is excited to announce the publication of a guide to understanding and utilizing Labor Market Information to maximize refugee employment outcomes. Whether you are a seasoned refugee employment professional or new to the field, labor market information (LMI) is a valuable tool for counseling refugees on employment options and matching clients with quality job placements. For job development, LMI can arm you with the information to elevate job placements that are low-skill entry-level jobs to a higher quality first job placement. For job readiness training, LMI helps you tailor curricula to meet the skills employers require for specific jobs.
Join Higher Tuesday, March 27 at 3 PM for a webinar on LMI and the official release of the LMI guidebook. The webinar will include a review of the guide and a discussion with a refugee employment manager on strategies for utilizing LMI in the field.
Emily Griffith Technical College in Denver, CO, has worked with the Colorado Refugee Services Program (CRSP) to develop Career Aligned Refugee Education and Employment Readiness Services (CAREERS), a program for highly skilled refugees. It includes promoting apprenticeships and other career pathway opportunities.
CAREERS Program Setup
The CAREERS program began in October 2017, with funding through the CRSP office. Individualized career plans for each participant are developed by assessing the client’s English level and making personalized recommendations based on his or her interests. Recommendations might include:
- Short-Term Occupation Training Programs (STOT)
- Transitional field-specific courses
- On-the-Job training opportunities
- Apprenticeship programs
- Longer-term options such as entrance into a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program
Making the Most of Apprenticeships
When CAREERS program participants are referred to apprenticeships, Emily Griffith Technical College connects students with businesses offering “learn while you earn” programs. Emily Griffith Technical College serves as the intermediary, providing support to companies and their apprentices by completing the administrative paperwork and providing college credit for the educational component of the work experience. While most apprenticeships require evidence of high school education, Emily Griffith Technical College has worked with some businesses to waive the requirement (this may not possible if a trade Union is involved).
“The advantage of an apprenticeship is to be in the workplace immediately, doing something that is meaningful for a career,” said Heather Colwell, an Emily Griffith Technical College Language Learning Center Student Navigator. “With apprenticeships, refugees get paid while working towards a better future. It’s really about meaningful work and a pathway that helps them meet their goals.”
Emily Griffith Technical College reports that refugees need more explanation about the apprenticeship time commitment and the competitive salaries that can be achieved relative to alternatives. “While an apprentice might start at just $15 an hour, wages often increase throughout an apprenticeship,” says Heather Colwell, Emily Griffith Technical College Student Navigator.
Another benefit which is sometimes missed when clients consider apprenticeships versus traditional educational programs is the comparative cost savings. In Colorado, refugees have access to higher education upon arrival; however, if they enroll in college before being considered in-state residents, they have to pay higher non-resident costs. Apprenticeships through Emily Griffith Technical College allow newcomers to start learning in-demand skills while earning an income AND saving on tuition fees.
While the CAREERS program is relatively new, the initial successes look promising. One refugee participant in an Emily Griffith Technical College apprenticeship program, whose background is in engineering, recently started a four-year sheet metal apprenticeship program making $16 an hour.
“Apprenticeships can fill a need for these high-skilled professionals,” said Tiffany Jaramillo, Emily Griffith Technical College Pathway Navigator.
Have you successfully referred clients to apprenticeship programs? If so, share your story with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A common misconception in our field is that higher paying jobs are not available without a Bachelor’s Degree (BA). According to the Good Jobs Project, however, there are 30 million “good jobs” across the United States that pay well and do not require BAs. Knowing where to find these jobs can assist employment staff and refugees in identifying career pathways that do not require expensive four-year degrees.
A “good job” is defined as one “with earnings of at least $35,000 annually for those under age 45 and earnings of at least $45,000 annually for workers age 45 and older.” The 30 million good jobs that don’t require a BA identified by The Good Jobs Project have median annual earnings of $55,000. Even though a BA isn’t needed for these jobs, researchers found the best-paying positions still require some education. Training, such as associate degree programs or trade skill certifications, may be necessary to secure a good job. When discussing career planning with refugees, it is essential for employment staff to explain the difference between BA education requirements and associate or technical education requirements.
The Good Jobs Project, completed by The Georgetown Center and JPMorgan Chase, includes a website and report analyzing the job market across the United States. The narrative report shows what careers are available state-by-state without the need of a BA through analysis of US Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
State Data Available
The report offers state-specific data including pay information, industry changes over time (from 1991 – 2015), jobs by educational attainment, and the top five industries and occupations where non-BA jobs are found. For example, Illinois has a median earning of $58,000 for non-BA workers in 2015. Fifty-six percent of Illinois workers were employed in blue-collar industries versus 44 percent in skilled-services industries. The top five industries in IL where good jobs are available without requiring a BA include:
- Transportation and utilities
- Information, financial activities, and real estate
- Health services
In addition to the narrative report, the user-friendly website offers data on good jobs that can be filtered by industry, education, occupations, geography, and gender. To learn more about the methodology and resources, click on the main menu drop down feature on the top right hand of their website.
As refugee employment professionals, understanding labor market information like that included in The Good Jobs Project can help you locate career pathways or “good jobs” over lower-paid, survival jobs. For example, a job developer in Illinois might decide, after reviewing the data from the Good Jobs Project that their team has not tapped into the Transportation and utilities field and could be missing out on opportunities for their clients.
For more information on educational requirements for specific sectors and occupations, check out to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook. Another tool for researching particular industry sectors is CareerOneStop, where you can find a directory of employers, career guidelines, training programs, and local resources.
Showing appreciation for your employer partners is easier than ever before.
We designed this holiday graphic to provide you with an easy and quick way to send a thank you email to employers and community partners.
You can do it in three easy steps:
1. Download a high resolution JPEG by right clicking on the below image and selecting “Save As”.
(or Download a PDF here)
2. Add your agency logo and message to an email.
3. Hit send.
Do you have a holiday outreach strategy that works? Please share in the comments below or contact us with the details!
Consultative Selling for Refugees, Part 3: Selling
During the optional day at our Second Annual Refugee Employment Workshop last November, international job development consultant Allen Anderson gave 70+ refugee employment professionals a crash course on a model of Job Development known as Consultative Selling.
We’ve already shared a birds-eye-view of what Allen presented, but now we want to zoom in and talk about the model in more detail.
This post is the third of a 4-part series that will share the basics of the model, as well as adaptations from refugee employment programs who have already been using it.
The “4-Step Road Map”
There are many facets to this model but the basic framework can be found in what Allen Anderson calls “The 4-Step Road Map.” These four steps include: Prospecting, Needs Analysis, Selling and Follow-up—in other words, the process of finding, developing and maintaining employer relationships.
In part one of this series we looked at Prospecting Strategies for identifying new employment opportunities. Prospecting can include making cold calls, visiting prospective employers or other types of initial outreach to local employers.
In part two, we discussed the Needs Analysis – the meeting where you sit down with an employer and ask them a series of questions in order to discover their important needs. You then use that information to identify clients that will meet a given employer’s needs.
In this post we’ll look at Selling (step three), which for many is the hardest part of the process.
What is Selling?
In the selling step, you present the employer with the solution to their needs- your candidate(s). You want the employer to see the value of working with you and your clients, even if your clients don’t fit the typical mold of candidates the employer has hired in the past.
Some consultative selling advocates, including Allen Anderson, believe eliminating the interview process is the objective of Selling. This means that the employer is ready to hire a candidate purely on your recommendation. The consensus among refugee employment staff is that a formal job interview remains important for our clients and also for most employers.
As RSSP Coordinator Valerie Evans from Catholic Charities Onondaga County in Syracuse, NY says: “Do the formal interview, even if the employer is willing to skip it- the practice is good for our clients!”
For clients, our goal is to provide them with the strongest possible foundation for long term career success. This means they must develop strong interview skills so they can become increasingly independent from refugee resettlement services.
For employers, our goal is for them to be “sold” on partnering with us, and “sold” on refugees as a strategic workforce solution.
When is the Optimal Time for Selling?
Typically, Selling will happen in a separate meeting after the Needs Analysis. That being said, as we noted in part two, if you feel that you understand an employer’s needs and have a solution to offer, by all means, make the sale at the end of the Needs Analysis meeting. After all– “You snooze, you lose.”
Be very careful, however, not to over-promise and under-deliver. There are a number of factors to consider in matching the right client to the right job. It’s better to take some time to make sure you can confidently recommend someone than to rush a situation that is unlikely to be successful.
4 Key Strategies for Selling
Most refugee employment professionals have not had the opportunity to receive training in sales techniques, so Consultative Selling has a lot to offer when it comes to being strategic in conversations with employers.
Here are four initial strategies to get you started:
Strategy #1: Focus on what all employers need most.
Allen Anderson identifies four employee characteristics that are most important to employers. Employers want to hire people who are reliable, dependable, available and capable. According to Anderson, if you can present candidates who have these characteristics, employers will often overlook other employment barriers.
When you’re presenting candidates to employers, you want to focus on these characteristics and also go back to the specific needs that the employer shared during the Needs Analysis.
“Always go back to the Needs Analysis. Show employers that you are listening and responding to their needs. Be confident. You have something employers need!” –Lisa McClure, Job Developer, ECDC/ACC Denver
When employers see that your clients have the foundational characteristics that they look for in all employees as well as some of the specific skills needed for a current opening, the chances that they will want to move forward to an interview are high.
Strategy #2: Highlight needs, features, and benefits.
Another helpful strategy that you can use is to structure your presentation to an employer around the following three areas: employer needs (which you discovered in the Needs Analysis), client features (their skills), and the benefits an employer will receive from hiring your clients (e.g. not needing to worry about criminal backgrounds or legal status issues) and working with your agency.
Think of it like running around a baseball diamond:
Make sure to put special emphasis on the benefits that the employer will receive by working with you as people tend to make decisions based on benefits rather than features (for more on this see this YouTube video from KO Sales Coach).
For example, an employer is likely to get more excited about a candidate who wants to stay at a job for a long time (benefit = saves the employer from frequent hiring/training costs) than they will about a candidate who speaks 4 languages (a feature).
Strategy #3: Anticipate objections and bring them up before the employer does.
If you’ve been doing refugee job development for a while, you know what the most common objections to hiring refugees are. But have you developed a plan for responding to these objections?
By anticipating and planning for objections, you “beat the employer to the punch”- you bring up the objection before they do.
For example, you know a lot of employers are going to say that they are concerned that people with limited English proficiency may not be able to work safely in their facility. So instead of waiting for them to bring up this concern, you might say:
“I know that a lot of employers are afraid to work with English language learners because of safety concerns. Safety is also very important to us and we certainly would not want to place our clients or any of your other employees in danger. Let me tell you about a few other employers that we’ve worked with in your industry and how we’ve supported them with the English issue…”
Your goal in anticipating objections is to put the employer’s mind at ease and assure them that you have their best interest in mind. By bringing up the objections that you know they are likely to have, you show them that you understand their concerns, and are already have solutions!
Strategy #4: Always ask for a decision- but be smart about the way you do it.
The hardest part of any sales conversation is asking someone to make a decision. It’s so much easier to be passive, say “thank you for your time” and walk out of a decision maker’s office not really knowing which way things are going.
Be bold and ask the employer when you can bring a few clients in for an interview.
“Always ask for a decision. If they are not willing to give you a decision, ask when you should follow-up. Be proactive.” –Valerie Evans, RSSP Coordinator, Catholic Charities Onondaga County, Syracuse, NY
The big idea here is that you should always ask for a decision, but every conversation is different, and your approach with employers will differ slightly, depending on how open and interested they are. Here are a few tips (paraphrased from a recent DTG-EMP webinar) for asking for action from employers with varying levels of interest:
When the employer seems very positive – If the employer seems very engaged and you notice a lot of positive body language (e.g. smiling, eye contact, head nodding, etc.) assume they are on board and start making plans. (e.g. “I know Ahmed is available on Monday. Would you like to interview him then?”)
When the employer is hard to read or seems neutral- Just be brave, and ask them directly if they’d like to move forward and put an interview on the calendar so you can bring them some qualified candidates.
When the employer seems unconvinced or hesitant- Ask them if there is any information they need that you have not yet shared with them. You might also ask them what concerns them most about working with refugees. Understanding the employer’s barriers to hiring refugees is the first step to removing them.
Finally, suggest the employer give a tour to refugee candidates and do a hands-on work-related activity so that they can identify refugee candidates with the right mix of skills and personality.
Resources for Learning More
If you’re new to this work, or new to Higher, be sure to sign up for our Online Learning Institute and check out our “Communicating with Employers” eLearning module.
You may also enjoy these two video posts on selling:
- Job Development 101: What are We Selling? – A refugee employment professional talks about approaching job development as direct sales.
- Selling Yourself in a Job Interview – If you are successful at selling, the next step is for clients to sell themselves. In this video a Congolese refugee resettled in Georgia explains the importance of selling yourself in a job interview.
We’re always interested in your good ideas and feedback! What strategies do you use to help overcome employer objections and sell them on your services and clients? Let us know at email@example.com.
Note: The content of this post combined insights from training and resources from Allen Anderson/DTG-EMP as well as Higher’s Job Development Community of Practice.
Please join us Thursday, June 30th at 3:30 pm EST for a free webinar, Job Development Strategies for Syrian Clients.
Learn about emerging job development strategies that have been effective for Syrian clients. Hear how your peers provide employment services that are client-centered and results-oriented.
Panelists will discuss unique barriers to employment faced by Syrian clients, as well as the unique skills they bring with them to the U.S. Whether it’s your first day or you’re a seasoned job developer, you won’t want to miss this opportunity!
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 www.careeronestop.org 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.
Where-are-the-jobs.com 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:
We hope that this tool as well as the resources available at careeronestop.org 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by using the comments section below.
Innovations from Allen Anderson at Higher’s Second Annual Refugee Employment Workshop
“A shift can change a person, a life, the world…or it can simply change the way you move through it.”
This tagline from a Nissan advertising campaign which ran in the early 2000’s challenged consumers to shift the way they thought about the world, and imagine all kinds of new possibilities.
Allen Anderson, international job development expert and President of DTG-EMP, gave a similar challenge at Higher’s Second Annual Refugee Employment Workshop. Drawing from his 25+ years of experience with social service employment programs as well as his work to help refugee employment programs in Colorado and Nebraska (See this past Higher post), Allen shared five important shifts that lead to improved employment outcomes:
From personality to strategy: Social service agencies often rely too heavily on dynamic personalities who seem to have the “magic” touch with employers rather than training a diverse staff around strategies and techniques that work. Personality can make for successful job development, but you can’t always hire for personality. No personality can connect with every employer.
Focusing on proven strategies and building a well-rounded and competent team will prove more sustainable and more successful over time.
From placement numbers to market share: Market share is the number of employers in your service area who regularly hire your clients and view you as a reliable source for dependable employees. The shift is to set higher expectations for yourself beyond hitting your numbers.
While you may be able to meet your monthly goals by placing everyone in a few large employers (think housekeeping, warehouse assembly lines, or chicken processing), you risk becoming too dependent on a small number of employers and you will severely limit the options for higher skilled clients.
Shoot to cultivate relationships with 25 employers who regularly hire from you. You’ll hit your numbers and you’ll have a variety of job options for clients of all skill-levels.
From getting jobs for clients to getting employers to hire them: It may seem counter-intuitive to suggest that you think about your clients less, but shifting your focus to the needs of employers in your region rather than the limitations of your clients preferences will go a long way in helping you increase your “market share.”
Taking this approach will open up all kinds of possibilities that you never considered before, and having more job opportunities will actually increase the likelihood that you will be able to connect your clients to jobs they are happy with.
From multiple hats to separation of duties: Employment service providers have diverse responsibilities. Job readiness, job counseling, job development and job placement are all important and require different skill sets. When possible, creating separate space for job development specialization is critical.
Josh Pacheco, Employment Supervisor at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains (LFSRM) in Colorado, says that making this shift – and implementing policies and processes to support it – has been the strongest success factor in their adaptation of this new approach.
From one size fits all to tracks for different skill levels: Different clients require different strategies. Our network puts a high value on client empowerment, but we aren’t always consistently successful at creating different tracks for higher skilled clients or opportunities for job upgrades.
It’s important to utilize job readiness and job counseling to empower higher skilled clients who may have the skills to place themselves (or at least participate in the process). Employment staff can then dedicate more time to the implementation of strong job development and sales tactics that prove to employers that clients with more significant barriers have the baseline skills necessary to do the job.
Over the course of the next year, Higher will be helping those who attended the optional day at our Annual Refugee Employment Workshop put what they learned to work in their own programs. Together, we will begin implementing, testing and tweaking these strategies. Stay tuned to follow how your peers are adapting these new techniques and how Higher will offer expanded access to what’s working in our network.
You could easily modify either of these Thanksgiving celebration ideas to involve refugee employers as a great job development strategy.
Click here and read the post image to see what happens when RefugeeOne in Chicago facilitates the challenge to invite a refugee to share a Thanksgiving meal.
Click here to read about IRC Baltimore’s Thanksgiving meal and see pictures from last year’s event.