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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Need Professional Development? Job Readiness Training Courses? Check out Higher’s Online Learning Institute!

Higher’s Online Learning Institute is a free online system with courses designed for refugee employment staff and job readiness instructors. Once you register, you will find yourself on the welcome page. Click on My Courses to take a tour of the course system. Then click on courses to access sessions such as:  Adult Learning Principles, 6 W’s of Good Case Notes, Communicating with Employers: Initial Contact, and Employability Assessment, just to name a few! There are also courses to share with your clients and enhance your Job Readiness Training, such as Introduction to Computer Technology, How to Complete a Job Application, Understanding your Paycheck, and Interview Behavior.

All of Higher’s past webinars are also available in the Learning Institute. To access, click on Webinars from the My Courses page.

Higher’s Online Learning Institute can be used for professional development or, if used in job readiness classes, training for your client.

Sign up and learn more with Higher!

Are there courses you would like to see? Let us know! Email suggestions to information@higheradvantage.org.

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Self-Care Strategies: Three Steps to Change Irrational Beliefs

“This shouldn’t be happening!” “This is unfair!” “I do not deserve for this to happen to me.” Have you ever said something along these lines in a moment of exasperation?

According to an article in The Week titled “Changing these 4 beliefs will make you surprisingly happy,” people often hold irrational beliefs reflected in sentiments like these without even realizing it. Renowned psychologist Albert Ellis points out that “beliefs are what cause the majority of unhappiness, anger, and anxiety you experience.” The number one irrational belief is that life is fair, and when things don’t go as we would like, we have the right to be extremely angry. You’ve likely encountered this irrational belief without realizing it at work or in daily life.

The author of the article suggests three steps to battle an irrational belief—identify the underlying belief, dispute that belief, and replace the belief. In other words,

  1. Pause with the issue and identify the root problem. If you are having trouble identifying the root problem, discuss these issues with a partner, spouse, friend or family member.
  2. Dispute the interpretation of the problem as being irrational. Is there any way that your belief is rational?
  3. Then replace the irrational belief with a reasonable stance. Everyone would prefer to be treated fairly in all ways, but things are not always going to work out that way. Are there are other steps you could take to prevent the problem or your reaction to a problem?

The overall message should be, don’t be surprised when life does not go the way you want it to go. By replacing an irrational belief such as “This shouldn’t be happening!” it can decrease your stress levels and improve their decision-making.

To learn about the other three irrational beliefs in the article, click here.

How do you mentally prepare refugees for the U.S. workplace? Share your ideas with us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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How to Stay Organized as a Job Developer

  1. Make lists. Start each day by prioritizing a list of tasks that need to be completed. This can assist you in identifying what is urgent and what is not. When emergencies do come up (as they often do) and you drop tasks to deal with it, knowing what other responsibilities must get done today versus what you can finish tomorrow can keep stress levels down.

  1. Use a planner. A paper planner or one on a device or computer can help track appointments and tasks. Keeping appointments with employers and clients is crucial to success. Not attending a scheduled appointment is a good way not to impress a potential employer.

 

  1. Schedule basic tasks. Scheduling time in your day for activities like case noting, returning phone calls and emails, and travel can prevent projects or daily tasks from overwhelming you. Look ahead at deadlines and add reminders in your planner to stay prepared. If setting aside time each day is not possible, try using a “theme” for different days of the week. For example, designating Fridays as case note days and Mondays as staff meeting days increases consideration for the theme selected for that day. While scheduling tasks, remember a 30-minute lunch break can provide relief, recharge your mind and lead to a fresh perspective on tasks for the day. Taking care of yourself is crucial to staying organized and assisting refugees. Stop eating at your desk while responding to emails or eating a granola bar on the way to pick up clients for an interview! Take the 30 minutes (or even 15!) to focus on yourself, eat, and maintain your mental health. Even if you have to schedule a break in your day, you will thank yourself later.

 

  1. Extra Documents. Keep copies of documents on hand that you need every time you meet with prospective employers or current employers. These could include outreach materials, a flyer on the benefits of hiring refugees and business cards. Having extra copies of documents in your bag or car will help you to be prepared for those days when you aren’t.

 

  1. Use Technology. Check out Higher’s previous post on 4 (Free) Productivity Tools for the Busy Job Developer for some technology that can save time and help you organize. As applications for devices change frequently, we selected four additional applications that may interest job developers:
  • Mileage IQ can track your mileage on a monthly basis.
  • TinyScan can help you scan (take a picture) of a document, save as a PDF, and share via email, all from your cell phone.
  • Dropbox and Google Drive are two other tools that make creating, editing and sharing documents simpler but keep in mind client confidentiality and privacy when using them.

 

  1. At the end of the day, clear your desk. A clean or organized office can clear your mind, looks good, and can support you to focus on the important tasks of the day. You can do this by sorting piles, putting documents away in file folders, or placing items into your shred box under your desk (get one if you already don’t have one). While you are cataloging files, remember to make note of any outstanding tasks or create an “urgent” stack of documents.

Starting to get organized can be the hardest part and while every day brings a new challenge to tackle, as job developers, using strategies like these to become and stay organized will reduce stress and benefit clients.

What are some ways you stay organized? Share your tips with us at informaton@higheradvantage.org.

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Jobs for the Future Seeks Session Proposals

Jobs for the Future is accepting proposals for its biannual national summit, Horizons 2018: A Vision for Economic Advancement, is June 13-14, 2018 in New Orleans, LA. Jobs for the Future’s mission is that all lower-income young people and workers have the skills and credentials needed to succeed in our economy.

Proposals should be in one of the following topics to represent refugee employment successes and challenges at the summit in June:

  • The Equity Imperative: Sessions will examine persistent disparities in outcomes for groups that our education and workforce systems are currently leaving behind. Presenters will elevate strategies that provide more equitable opportunities for workers to gain the skills, credentials, and experiences to meet employer needs and their potential.
  • Skills for the Future: Sessions will explore innovative approaches to build and assess these skills, including competency-based education to accelerate learning, and strategies for creating stronger, more agile feedback loops between employers and educators about skill needs. Presenters will highlight promising solutions for ensuring that youth and adults complete high school and postsecondary programs of high value to regional economies.
  • Solutions at Work: Presenters will showcase proven innovations and breakthrough ideas that foster more powerful practice, successful programs, and improved systems.

The deadline for proposal submissions is Dec. 31, 2017. You can read more about the conference and download the session proposal application here.

Written by Carrie Thiele.

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Reminder: Register for Tomorrow’s Webinar – Financial Literacy: How to Teach the Basics

money backgroundFinancial Literacy: How to Teach the Basics

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

2:00 – 3:15pm EST

This webinar will explore basic financial literacy topics to cover with clients to build a strong foundation for economic self-sufficiency. Presenters will highlight a variety of free financial literacy resources and will provide examples of community partnerships that can be replicated. Financial literacy curricula, job readiness activities and training tips will be shared throughout the training. 

Register here

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Free Professional Development Opportunity Next Tuesday, 11/29

wes-webinar

Who: The WES Global Talent Bridge Team

What: Webinar – What Employers Want in a Job Applicant

When: Tuesday, November 29, 2016, 2:00-3:00 p.m. EST

Why: You’ll hear from employers who will:

  • Share the do’s and don’ts of applying for a job
  • Provide advice on structuring your resume
  • Highlight useful interview skills
  • Offer ways to grow at your current job

How: Register by clicking here

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Guiding and Facilitating Learning – Infographic

All of us are responsible for guiding and facilitating learning in some way.  You might be teaching soft skills to clients in the job readiness classroom or showing the new intern how to book a conference room.  Although this infographic contains tips and suggestions for use in the classroom setting, the first few lines can apply to the informal learning that happens between coworkers every day.

event5

Source: https://anethicalisland.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/events-in-instruction-event-5/

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Upcoming Learning Opportunities

Friday, October 7, 2016 – American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) Conference

What: This Friday, the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) will hold their second conference, Integrating Migrants into the Workforce.  Bringing together nonprofit, educational, corporate, and federal and local government actors from the United States and Germany, this conference will highlight both countries’ strengths of educating the workforce (Germany) and integrating newcomers into society (United States). To learn more about this event, visit the AICGS website.

Where: Washington, DC

When: Friday, October 7, 2016 from 8:30 am – 2:30 pm (EST)

How: Register to attend here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 – Free Webinar: Job-Ready, Set, Go! Connecting Immigrant and Refugee Youth to Employment

What: Cities of Migration is hosting a free webinar to explore enterprising ideas from Stockholm and Paris that are connecting talented young people to jobs while helping businesses tap the diversity advantage.

Where: Online – learn more about this event here.

When: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 at 10 am (EST)

How: Register to attend here.

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Free Higher Webinar: Job Development Strategies for Syrian Clients

6.30 webinarPlease 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!

Register for the webinar here.

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