Secondary Migration, Meat Processing Jobs and City Services

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Photo Credit: Stephen Spillman, The Texas Tribune and NY Times

A recent article in the New York Times presents the diverse  issues involved in secondary migration initially motivated by jobs in the meat processing industry.

From the employment perspective, one of the most difficult questions is how to help clients move beyond meat processing jobs.  That could involve a job upgrade or response to a repetitive-motion injury.  In many cases, secondary migrants arrive after the initial mass hiring is finished, so full time work is no longer available.

We are all familiar with the problems caused by the phenomenon of secondary migration around jobs in this industry.  Can anyone share solutions, employer partnerships or success stories?


NEW Upwardly Global Skilled Immigrant Employment Training Online

Hispanic woman at computer thumbnailDid you know that more than 25% of the skilled immigrant professionals who benefit from Upwardly Global (UpGlo) programs are refugees or asylees?  If you don’t already know about this great resource for our highly skilled clients, explore UpGlo’s website today.

UpGlo is launching an exciting new Online Employment Training Program that can help more of our clients with professional degrees and work experience find job upgrades with higher paying employment in their field’s of expertise.

Tell your clients.  Spread the word.  Think about how to reach clients beyond their initial period of service who might be the best candidates to take advantage of this great opportunity.

Training Program Details

The training program is a guided series of self-paced, online workshops that help skilled immigrants acquire the techniques and cultural savvy needed to market themselves as a competitive candidate for U.S. jobs, and ultimately to return to their career fields in the U.S.  The program description includes a clear list of services, eligibility requiremens and an online application form.

After applying, an UpGlo staff member will call the client directly within three to five business days.  This initial call includes a discussion of their experience and qualifications in English, as part of the screening process.

Why UpGlo is an Important Partner for Our Network

Across our refugee employment network, we continue to talk about better ways to help highly skilled clients achieve their dreams to work in their field AND begin to work in a survival or starter job so they can meet their basic needs through rapid employment.

Often, by the time clients are ready for a job upgrade , they are  no longer in touch with refugee employment programs and seldom come back to request those services.  Due to the constraints of resources and case loads, it’s often difficult to provide the required support when they do come back to request it.

The nature of our work requires us to be generalists, offering solid basic support for all clients.  UpGlo’s focus on the highly-skilled segment of our client base allows them to develop the deeper expertise often required to help these clients successfully reenter their chosen career fields.





Big Picture Survey of Skilled Immigrants in the US Workforce

African Pro Man at Computer[1]Skilled immigrants are an integral part of the ongoing conversation around Comprehensive Immigrant Reform that is generating in energy and information we can use.  We often struggle to help highly skilled refugees adjust expectations and balance their long term career goals with the need to pay the rent.

We feel pressure to achieve our placement numbers and provide 5 years of employment services with limited resources.  There’s certainly little time to sit back and think about the bigger picture. 

This overview of current research and opinion on both sides of the issue will help you get up to speed on current thinking about this difficult to serve part of our client base.

Free Resources for Doctors

20060909-121226During the initial months of resettlement, we know it can be difficult to support the long-term career goals of resettled refugees who want to re-enter the medical field as doctors.

Here are two free resources from the Educational Commission for Foreign Graduates that clients can access on their own during and beyond their first few months of resettlement.

Click on the hyperlinks below to explore further.


1.  The One Dozen Most Important Things You May Not Have Known, Understood, or Realized about American MedicineThis is a series of modules that offers a quick in the culture of the American healthcare system.  

2.  Tips for Understanding US Medical Jargon — The use of informal language is common in the medical world, and there are a variety of abbreviations, idioms/slang terms, and “medicalese” that American healthcare professionals employ on a regular basis.  Using these abbreviations and terms properly is important to avoid being misinterpreted or appearing insensitive.

Both of these resources crossed my desk through an email from IMPRINT, a coalition of organizations active in the emerging field of immigrant professional integration.  You can sign up for their mailing list here.


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.


What is Your Dream Job? Clients Need to Know the Answer to Succeed and Thrive.

Clouds stock imageAt first, it surprised me when clients couldn’t answer this question.  Unfortunately, the reason why makes sense for far too many refugees and migrants.

Many have never had the opportunity to dream.  They’ve likely never been asked the question.  Perhaps they have been led to believe that “their limitations” prevent them from doing anything more.

Knowing the answer to the dream job question is important for developing an appropriate Employment Plan (and for long term client success and fulfillment).  You could adjust this list of 9 questions to help clients begin to discover the answer for themselves.  Here are a couple of examples from the article:

  • If I could choose one friend to trade jobs with, I’d choose ____________, because ____________.
  • The thing I love most about my current job is ____________, because ____________.

Some dream jobs may focus more on lifestyle and family than on US-style career advancement.  Clients who have a specific goal in mind may not be aware of alternative career paths or how to achieve their dream.

No matter their background and level of education, the US job market offers an unmatched variety of job options and paths to career advancement.   All clients need help to expand their knowledge of the available options – and the time, money and prerequisites necessary to achieve them.

With knowledge of their long term career goal and an Employment Plan to map their path to achieving it, you can help clients develop more realistic expectations, find the best entry level job now and make referrals to ESL or other skill development classes.


FREE ESL, GED and Vocational Training in More than 100 Career Fields

Job Corps LogoIf this sounds too good to be true, maybe you haven’t yet discovered Job Corps.  Back in the day, it had a reputation as reform school for juvenile delinquents and high school drop-outs.  That’s outdated information.

Job Corps is a Department of Labor program with a national network of 125 campuses offering career development services to at-risk youth, ages 16 to 24.  A high percentage of our clients fall into this age bracket.  The Bureau of Refugees, Population and Migration (BPRM) estimates that approximately 25% of Congolese arrivals will be in this age range.

Most of our clients will qualify based on income eligibility.  Many crave education and need a range of skills to get an entry level job with career potential.  Job Corps is an unmatched opportunity.

Many locations offer a campus setting where housing, meals, spending money and a range of extra-curricular activities are provided at no cost.  Without the pressure of having to earn enough money to pay rent, clients can focus full time on perfecting their English, getting a GED and earning a certificate in one or more skilled trades.  It’s a great way to learn social skills and meet other young people from different backgrounds, as well.

How to Proceed? 

Identify Job Corps locations in your area here.  The recruiting website has all of the basic information you need to get started, including a contact form that will get a rapid response from a recruiting office in your area.  Other resources include YouTube and Facebook pages.  Much of the recruiting information is available in Spanish.

Higher recommends developing a relationship with the recruiting office and touring the facilities before beginning to publicize the opportunity with clients.  When you have applications, contacts and comprehensive knowledge of the steps involved, you can develop a plan to move forward.  As you learn more about the different career training offered, you’ll be able to screen clients more effectively and help them think about which option might be the best fit for them.

Consider beginning with a small initial group with intermediate English language skills or who share a common language and culture.  This will make it easier to provide initial interpretation and will build in an initial comfort level for the clients, their families and community.  The word will spread and you will soon be fielding a high volume of interest.  It helps to be prepared in advance so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

What’s the Catch?

There are a few issues that require a bit of strategic thinking.  These are definitely manageable and are far outweighed by the benefits.  The enrollment process can take some time.  Some traditional families might need to be provided with information so they can feel comfortable with the decision.  For in-demand career tracks, there can be a several-month wait to enter the program.

Stay Tuned for Additional Help from Higher

Higher is developing a webinar focused on Job Corps.  Watch our blog and website for an announcement early next year.  If you have experience helping clients access this great opportunity, please get in touch as we gather success stories and expertise from within the refugee employment network.



Research Study Measures Economic Benefits of Job Upgrades Into Professional Career Tracks

It’s often difficult to help refugees with job upgrades or professional recertification, but the added income for refugees and contribution to the US economy make a  significant difference.  Skilled immigrants increased their average annualized salary by 121% (from an average of $16.967 to $37,490) when they begin working in a better job in their field.  A research study released by Upwardly Global in April of this year, documents and quantifies the economic benefits of employment assistance to help skilled immigrants secure job upgrades related to the careers in which they offer skills and experience.    Look for more resources and examples of job upgrade strategies and successes in professional recertification in the coming months at



NYTimes Article Provides Valuable Examples and Resource Leads for Physician Clients

A recent New York Times article outlines the barriers refugee and other immigrant physicians face to continue their practice in the US.  Providing a copy of this article to your physician clients will reinforce what you’re telling them, give them useful examples of other physicians in the US and point to two great resources you can help them find:  The Welcome Back Initiative and Upwardly Global.

Immigrant Professional Recertification Research

A new research study from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) outlines the barriers and identifies possible solutions to the issue of skilled refugee professional recertification.  It is very much in line with our experiences as service providers helping refugee clients understand and address barriers they may face, learn about recertification options and seek pathways to reentering their profession and gaining US work experience, networks and US licensure.

You can find a link to the entire report in our Research and Reports section or by visiting the MPI website.