This Friday, Higher found a wonderful online site that highlights the power of the human story at iamamigrant.org. This site allows people to post their own story of migration. Some of those stories were people forced from their homeland and some were in search of a better life. This organization is able to put a face to word and challenge the negative connotation. The site celebrate migrants. The site is available in multiple languages and has thousands of stories from all over. I hope you visit this site and add your own story if you are a former refugee. I shared this site with some of the clients I worked with in hopes they will add their stories.
This Friday we hope you will listen to a podcast with powerful stories of Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) recipients. This American Life is my favorite podcast. The amazing stories of real people always help take my mind off the daily grind. For employment staff who work hard to find better job for those SIVs who are highly educated and often speak English quite well I hope you will enjoy this podcast.
This American Life is an American weekly hour-long radio program produced by WBEZ Chicago Public Radio and hosted by Ira Glass. It is broadcast on numerous public radio stations in the United States and is also available as a free weekly podcast. Primarily a journalistic non-fiction program, it has also features essays, memoirs, field recordings, and short fiction.
On January 6, 2017 This American Life aired episode 607: “Didn’t We Solve this One?” This episode masterfully captures the journey of Iraqis who took on the harrowing task of helping US forces juxtaposed against the struggle in Congress to create the SIV program. The SIV program brings Iraqis to the US who served the US forces and now their lives are targeted because of the work they did for the US.
For more information on the SIV program read this post: Afghan and Iraqi SIV Programs
This Friday, take some time to watch this film. The film could be helpful in presenting material to community stakeholders who know little about the modern day plight of refugees. On December 27, 2016 PBS’s Frontline premiered Exodus. Exodus is a Keo Films production for WGBH/FRONTLINE and BBC. The director is James Bluemel.
“I am a refugee, I am just like you, I have a family, I have dreams, I’ve got hopes…” says Ahmad one of the 5 stories Featured in Exodus. “I just want a peaceful life away from violence.”
A documentary film featuring first-hand stories of refugees and migrants as they make dangerous journeys across 26 countries seeking safety and a better life. Some of the stories are captured by the refugees themselves on their smartphones tracking their trek via water or van to Europe. These people are fleeing from war in search of peace but along their journey they face smugglers, human traffickers and many do not survive. For those that make it to Europe, many are shut out or encamped.
Much of the dialogue across the US and the world this past year has been ceaselessly negative towards refugees. In addition to your words, perhaps this film can help to combat the stigma in today’s contentious political climate. “It’s important to unmask and humanize, and remind people that this is a human tragedy.”-Director James Bluemel.
Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), needs information on newly arrived Haitians. Has your office seen the arrival of Haitians with Temporary Protected Status (TPS)? CLINIC is ORR’s TA provider on immigration and legal rights for refugees.
CLINIC plans to offer a webinar in late January or early February that will focus on how to best serve recently arrived Haitians who qualify for TPS. CLINIC has created a brief survey that will inform the content of this webinar.
Click here to take the survey before it closes on Friday, January 13th.
Do you have refugee resettlement experience and are looking to take the next step in your refugee employment career? Laurel Collins at Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington asked Higher to share this job description with our amazing network. If you have experience and want to be the next Program Manager, Fredericksburg Migration and Refugee Services please consider applying.
To see the full job description and to apply for this position, click here!
In 2017, Higher will resume our Friday Features which are stories that are published by the media around the country which highlight refugee employment. We hope to brighten the end of your week with some positive and interesting stories that accentuate the great work of refugees and refugee staff. In the article we chose below, NPR explores the yummy world of cheesecake in Chicago.
Read this NPR piece Refugees Resettled In Chicago Help Make Its Most Famous Cheesecake written by Debora Amos. Stories of refugees succeeding in business is one that deserves the spotlight. This article covers the journey a few refugees learning the highly skilled world of a computerized production line with an old world recipe. 15% of the total workforce are refugees from 5 different countries and there is opportunity for advancement and promotion for workers who remain with the company.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) State Plans are now available to the general public on the Department of Education’s site. States submitted their four-year WIOA State Plans for Federal review and approval in early 2016. State Plans provide valuable information about the various investments, programs, and initiatives underway to serve our job seekers, students, and businesses across the country.
By taking the time to familiarize yourself with how WIOA is administered and its requirements in your local Workforce Development region you can gain a better understanding of labor market information and identify high growth industries and high demand jobs in your area.
The state plans are very long and dense, but you may find it helpful to learn about what your state plans to do with its mainstream workforce development programs over the next 4 years.
Higher has reviewed the state plans and identified three important sections of each plan that we’d encourage you to look at in order to learn about your local workforce area: Economic and Workforce Analysis, State Operating Systems, and the Strengths and Weaknesses of Workforce Development Activities. Consider working as a team to review the different sections of your state plan and then report your findings in your next employment staff meeting.
Each section can be found in the table of contents of each state plan. These three sections will help you improve your knowledge of your local labor market, the WIOA programs that exist in your area, and the current strengths and weaknesses of your area’s current mainstream workforce development activities. Here is a brief summary of these three sections:
- ECONOMIC AND WORKFORCE ANALYSIS*
This section is great to help job developers identify opportunities for strategic employer partnerships within the fastest growing industries. Employment staff can use labor market information and other data to respond to real world job shortages and local community needs. This section also highlights the number of jobs posted in each sector.
For example from January 1 to October 5, 2015 there were 842 job posting for Registered Nurses in the State of Hawaii. The State Plans then address which areas inside the state saw the largest job growth and those areas that posted the most jobs. The most in demand jobs and their average salary are laid out in this section. As you look at these reports pay attention to wage data to avoid pursuing limited career opportunities or partnerships with employers that may be in high growth industries, but offer low wages.
The map above is from the North Carolina State plan and its lists the strongest industries in each region across the state and the aver number of people employed within each industry.
- STATE OPERATING SYSTEMS
This section describes each tool, program, and resource that each state has created and funneled WIOA money into. Here you will learn about all the core programs your state has, where the American Job Centers are located, and what resources are available through community colleges.
In looking at the plans, each state has very different names for their programs so we did not list any but please take note of this section to find the resources in your state. For example a job center in Colorado is called Colorado Works and in North Carolina its NC Works but each offers a different menu of services.
- THE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES
In this section, each state was required to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each of their workforce development activities. In order to make the best use of federal money the states were asked to make a cohesive 4 year plan on how to utilize all their workforce programs and initiatives together so that a job seeker only has to go to one location to receive information about all services they need.
Workforce development staff will create individualized employment plans for job seekers and then enroll them in all necessary vocational training programs, apprenticeships, ESL courses, etc., that each person needs in order to find a job. This section also takes a look at the operating systems that are already in place and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Pay attention to strengths listed in your state plan to identify opportunities that your clients may be able to take advantage of. For example, many state plans emphasize the expanding role of apprenticeships, especially in non-traditional industries and occupations such as healthcare, IT, and green jobs. The weaknesses are important to note because this is where you will want to advocate for your clients. See what is lacking in the state plans in order to understand what challenges the mainstream system has identified that also might present difficulties for your clients.
We hope this information will allow you to better digest your state plan. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Each state plan will have different headers/tiles for sections but the ones Higher used are the keywords found title and will be easy to find in the table of contents.
Congratulations! After all the long and hard hours you’ve worked building innovative and successful employment programs, you are now a manager. This new role is important and well-deserved but comes with a whole new set of goals and demands. New managers need just as much guidance in their role so here are a few helpful tips to all the new managers out there:
1) Address the shift immediately: If you find yourself managing your former peers you must address the new dynamics immediately. Have a meeting with the staff and your supervisor. Have your supervisor explain the shift and your new role so everyone is clear about the new team dynamic. Whereas you may have gone out with co-workers after work before, that friendship dynamic may no longer be possible. Please keep in mind that some colleagues may be resentful of your promotions but just be professional and focus on running a great program.
2) Communication- It’s a two way street: A great manager knows how to listen effectively and does not talk down to their employees. Take the time to understand and appreciate the thoughts and feelings of your staff. Have a weekly team meeting where you give a few updates but also allow time for the staff to give updates. A few ideas to get staff talking: have your staff come prepared to discuss a difficult client story, a successful client story, and an issue they need advice on. Then talk through each situation as a team.
3) Effective and Efficient Meetings: In the refugee resettlement world everyone is working at such a fast pace. In order to get your staff to slow down and take the time to comprehend what you need them to learn, be wise about when and how often you schedule meetings. If you don’t have enough information to fill up an agenda, don’t call a meeting. Decide what and when new information needs to be shared. For example ORR changes to programs or problems with TANF are going to lead your agenda. Try to focus on 3 to 5 key issues in each meeting, and try not to meet more than once a week as a team.
4) Delegation: A great manager knows the strengths and weaknesses of their staff. It’s your job now to make sure the workload is divided. A manager does not take on all the work themselves; rather they know what needs to be accomplished and can identify which team member is best suited to accomplish the task. You are there to oversee and guide your staff, not to do their work for them.
5) Accept Responsibility: Problems arise. Accept responsibility for your own actions, and accept responsibility for your team’s actions. Failure to accept responsibility makes a manager look weak to both superiors and subordinates.
6) One-on-one meetings: These meetings are a great way to learn what your employees need. Employees can sometimes be shy to share in a large groups. Here you will want to focus these meetings on the employee’s: needs, strengths, problems with clients. Ask if they want additional training and how are they managing their time. Some people need help managing their workload and this may mean helping them create a strict weekly schedule. These meetings should also be a chance for employees to hear from you. Positive feedback is always going to be better received. Try to make plans to help employee improve their performance instead of just pointing out their weaknesses.
7) Continued Professional Development: A manager is someone who is constantly learning and growing. There are tons of great seminars out there on how to be an effective manager, but there are also lots of webinars and resources that can help you advance and grow your employment programs. At the end of this article are a few resources.
8) Find a Mentor: Find someone who is an inspiring manager and ask them if they might become a mentor to you. Advice from someone you respect will go a long way. A mentor can also be a great resource and sounding board for your ideas and problems. Be open about how you are feeling in your new role and what support you need in order to continue growing as a manager.
9) Passion for the Mission: As a manager you will be asked to address many stakeholders in your community, including employers, funders, and government officials. Public speaking may not be your forte but it will improve over time if you can passionately convey your work. Passion for the clients and your organization’s mission will go a long way in the success of your work and will keep you coming to work with a smile on your face and set a great example for your staff.
10 )Lead by Example: Don’t just tell your staff what to do; show them. A great manager knows how to do the work, not just teach it. Instead of asking new staff to teach job club, give them the opportunity to observe you or another seasoned staff member so that they can learn by example. Offer to sit with them if they have a difficult client, or need support with tasks such as intake paperwork or a food stamp re-certification. Staying engaged in the work of your staff will also give you a chance to exercise and refresh your skills. Above all, inspire others to want to help you accomplish desired goals. People who want to do something are far more effective than people who have to do something.
- Leadership-focused podcast
- Business Insider: 10 books every new manager should read— Things Fall Apart was my favorite and a less overt resource 🙂
- The Manger’s Resource Handbook
- A few leadership-focused blogs: