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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Career Paths and Options for Medical Professionals

Med Pro Group iStock_000022514360XSmallMany of you likely already know about Upwardly Global, a great organization that focuses specifically on helping foreign-trained and skilled immigrants reenter the US workforce in their profession.

Developed in collaboration with the Welcome Back Initiative, their website offer three excellent on-line trainings about alternative career pathways for Physicians and Nurses; Pharmacists and Dentists.  They present specific jobs that require little or no training and outline the education and other skills require for each.

These could be great resources for clients, but you should consider watching them first so you can be prepared to talk to clients about their ideas and expectations after they watch.

The training does emphasize that every situation is different and that the examples provided will not work for everyone.  It also acknowledges the need to earn income while achieving longer term goals.  The trainings are presented in simple, clearly-articulated English that will be easy to understand for intermediate to advanced English speakers.

For clients struggling to adjust their expectations around an initial, starter or survival job, some of the ideas and options presented in the training could reignite their resistance to the requirements of the resettlement program in which they are enrolled.  More importantly, delays in starting to work could cause serious damage to their families’ economic self-sufficiency.

Upwardly Global and the Welcome Back Initiative are both excellent resources for our clients.  Higher hopes to explore ways that we can better help clients tap into their resources.  Stay tuned for more information in the coming months.


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