Coming Soon: ORR’s Refugee Career Pathways Program

carreerWant to know what funding opportunities are planned at ORR and HHS?  Check out forecast and RFP announcements.

Of particular interest to employment is an upcoming new competitive grant application process for The Refugee Career Pathways (RCP) Program.

Here’s how the official forecast announcement describes the new opportunity in HHS-2017-ACF-ORR-RC-1224.

“Through the RCP Program ORR will provide funding to implement projects assisting refugees to qualify for licenses and certifications necessary to attain employment and improve self-sufficiency. Allowable activities will include case management, training and technical assistance, specialized English language training, and mentoring. Grantees may also provide refugee participants with financial assistance for costs related to the establishment or re-establishment of credentials, such as obtaining educational credits or enrollment in required certification programs. Grantees are encouraged to collaborate with professional associations, universities, and others with expertise in this area to facilitate career opportunities in ways that supplement, rather than supplant, existing services.”

You can read more about the projected timing, eligibility and funding available via this summary from grantstation, too.  Start building partnerships with American Job Centers and other mainstream workforce stakeholders now to be ready to submit a competitive proposal next year.

 

Employer Perspectives on Hiring Refugees in the U.S. and Europe

Successful Job Development and Customized Job Readiness Preparation Offer Business Solutions

Two recent articles illustrate proven strategies we know work, outline employer perspectives shared between U.S. and European industry and point to growing industry-led innovations to integrate refugees into the workforce.

Results from Best Practices in Our Work

An article in fastcoexist.com highlights successful IRC employer partnerships with Chipotle, Starwood Lodging and others. They describe customized job readiness preparation, effective applicant pre-screening and interview preparation similar to services many of you provide to employer partners.

According to a quote from the article, “refugees sent [to Chipotle] by the IRC are more than seven times more likely to be qualified and hired compared to someone in the company’s typical applicant pool.

Employer Partnerships and Corporate-led Solutions in the U.S. and Europe

Businesses..say that working with refugees isn’t charity, it’s good business, according to another quote from the fastcoexist.com article from Jennifer Patterson,quote-snip project director for the Partnership for Refugees, a new initiative the White House announced in June to work with the private sector.

recent article from businesstimes.com mentions on-line educational opportunities offered for refugees in Europe. Read a previous Higher blog post about a similar opportunity from Coursera for Refugees, part of the White House initiative.

Similar Employer Motivations and Initial Concerns about Hiring Refugees

The businesstimes.com article highlights early successes and the corporate perspective on hiring refugees in Germany. Prospective employers express concern about limits to initial productivity due to low language proficiency.

Refugee employment service providers know that employers who partner with us to hire refugees quickly see beyond initial worries about language, illustrated in this quote from the fastcoexist.com article.

“We do sometimes need to increase up-front training for our refugee recruits,” says Starwood’s associate director of community partnerships and global citizenship Kristin Meyer. “But the dedication and passion they bring to the job definitely outweighs that investment.”

Statistics about initial job placements for new arrivals in Germany also mirror our success placing refugees in starter jobs with strong hospitality and service sector employer partners.  Across the country, strong hotel employer partnerships yield supportive starter jobs and support for short-term vocational pre-employment training like pilot hospitality training programs developed by IRC and Starwood lodgings.

What We Might Learn from Germany About Registered Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship is already a widespread business strategy for on-boarding and training new hires in Germany.  Read more about the expansion of registered apprenticeship opportunities in the U.S in a previous Higher blog post from our mainstream resource series.

German employers see pre-apprenticeship bridge training as necessary to prepare refugees to succeed in apprenticeship programs. This mirrors successes many refugee employment programs have with contextualized ESL, in-house short-term vocational training programs as prerequisites to successful refugee access to other mainstream workforce resources.

Businesses in the U.S. and Europe share some of the same goals and needs when hiring refugees. The services we provide to employer partners offer solutions that could be replicated in Europe.  There many be lessons we can learn from bridge training in the context of registered apprenticeship in Germany.

 

 

 

Take Time to Celebrate One Refugee’s Success Today

Don’t lose sight of the individuals amidst the surge!

Sometimes it’s easy to get too busy to appreciate the personal triumphs that make our jobs worthwhile.  The single mom who gained the confidence to ace a job interview. The family that bought a car with their tax return.  The excitement of a first day at work in a job with a new employer partner.

“Nobody is ever just a refugee,” said Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi, Nigerian novelist and non-fiction writer, delivering the keynote address at a World Humanitarian Day event in New York. “Nobody is ever just a single thing. And yet, in the public discourse today, we often speak of people as a single a thing. Refugee. Immigrant.”

In a different way, we can also slip into the bad habit of losing sight of any single client achievement among an overwhelming case load.

You can read more about Adichi’s remarks or listen to her entire speech to get a big picture take on the refugee crisis you address one client at a time every day. There may not be time in your schedule for speeches today.  Make time to think about one client’s success and appreciate the role you played in helping them achieve it. 

New CORE Videos Offer Useful Employment Stories

SIV Stories:  Starting Anew in the United States

Three new videos from the Cultural Orientation Resource Exchange (CORE) include excellent first hand stories from Iraqi and Afghan SIVs about their employment experience.

They specifically discuss adjusting expectations around starter jobs, realistic hourly wages, career advancement and how many members of a family might need to work.

Each one is 10-15 minutes long, so you might want to first identify where to queue just the part you want to use in your job readiness activities. They’re available in English, Arabic and Farsi.

SIV Video Series

5 Types of Jobs in Growth Industries

GrowthToo busy to think about new employers or job options?  Need more job openings to use with all the clients on your case load?

Three articles from Forbes and the Department of Labor blog highlight good jobs that don’t require a degree or the fastest growing jobs in the U.S. right now.

Here’s a synthesis of the 5 types of jobs most relevant for refugee job seekers.

1. Foreign language interpreter made two of the lists with a 29% growth rate.

2. Health care-related jobs were the majority of all three lists.  Jobs ranged from Home Health Aid to Registered Nurse.

Jobs you might not have thought of:  Audiologist, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Physical Therapy Assistant and Hearing Aide Specialist.

3.  Ambulance driver (30% growth rate) requires a CDL with a passenger waiver and sometimes CPR certification.

4. Many of the non-degree jobs relate to the housing industry.  All kinds of construction skilled labor were included.

Jobs you might not have thought of:  Building Inspector, Insurance Sales, Property Management and Real Estate Agent.

5.  Just for fun, three unusual jobs made the lists: Photogrammatist/Cartographer, Genetics Counselor and Wind Turbine Service Technician.

Got  time to learn more?  Click these three links (one, two and three) to explore the source articles or read about prospecting techniques that work in a previous Higher post.

 

Untapped Opportunities for Refugees Age 16-24

OSY

Learn how to access WIOA funding at NAWDP’s Annual Youth Development Symposium

Everyone should be aware of opportunities for refugees between the ages of 16-24 to access mainstream workforce funding for Out of School Youth (OSY) who are disconnected from education and the workforce. WIOA shifted funding from 25% to 75% for this population. At least 20% of refugees could qualify.

Partnering with us accesses a pipeline of highly motivated OSY eager for training, resources and careers. Our mainstream workforce colleagues continue to struggle to identify, attract and retain urban youth and other traditional clients at the increased funding levels.

Attend NAWDnawdpP’s Annual Youth Development Symposium in Chicago 10/31 – 11/2 to connect to over 500 youth workforce professionals from across the nation. You’ll meet American Job Center Staff, Youth Build Grantees, Job Corps Professionals, Career and Guidance Counselors, Educators, Community College Representatives, Juvenile Justice Specialists, and more!

To begin learning now, check out a previous post to explore our new youth employment services resource collection.

Workforce Resource: Registered Apprenticeship

Source: www.rittal.com

Source: www.rittal.com

Welcome to the fourth post in our series featuring some of the tools, resources and programs available in the mainstream workforce system, shaped by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and delivered through the national network of American Job Centers serving all U.S. job seekers.

It’s a complex, resource-rich system underutilized in refugee employment services. Higher is determined to change that so our clients benefit from new opportunities and employment services.

We’ll do the research you don’t have time for amidst managing client caseloads and employer relationships. You can focus on using highlighted resources to help your clients succeed in the U.S. workforce.

So far we’ve highlighted online tools that you can utilize in your job counseling and job development efforts, as well as On-the-job Training. In this post we’ll talk about the U.S. Department of Labor’s Registered Apprenticeship program.

Apprenticeships Are Making a Comeback

Source: https://www.dol.gov/featured/apprenticeship/shareables

www.dol.gov/featured/apprenticeship/shareables

When you think of an apprenticeship, you probably think of a unionized position in a skilled trade. That’s because that was what the U.S. Apprenticeship program looked like when it started about 75 years ago.

Today there are more than 400,000 registered apprenticeships in more than 1,000 occupations.

Since 2014, the US has added more than 75,000 new apprenticeships, the largest increase in nearly a decade. Some of these are traditional apprenticeships in the skilled trades, but many are non-traditional apprenticeships in fields including Healthcare, Information Technology, Advanced Manufacturing, Transportation and Logistics and Energy. Learn more about DOL industry priorities here.

(Re)starting a U.S. Career Through Registered Apprenticeship

Registered Apprenticeship combines classroom-based learning with structured on-the-job learning. This federally funded “earn while you learn” training program allows employers to develop a highly qualified workforce and helps apprentices learn a trade while earning a living wage.

A Registered Apprenticeship can last anywhere from 1-6 years (most are 4 year programs) and always leads to a nationally recognized credential that is both portable and scalable.

This means that apprenticeships lead to even more opportunity for additional career advancement for job seekers who might choose to take their skills and credential to a different employer or another State.  They might also decide later to obtain a higher level credential as they advance further in their chosen career.

The Five Components of Registered Apprenticeship

While Registered Apprenticeship can be organized differently and customized to the needs of the employer, there are five components to all Registered Apprenticeship programs:  

A Quick-Start Toolkit: Building Registered Apprenticeship Programs, U.S. Department of Labor / Apprenticeship USA

Source: A Quick-Start Toolkit: Building Registered Apprenticeship Programs, U.S. Department of Labor

Are Registered Apprenticeships a Good Fit for Refugees?

Apprenticeships can be a great fit for refugees, particularly those with higher levels of English coming from more skilled backgrounds—whether that be a professional from a STEM industry or a “blue collar” worker with experience in the skilled trades.

Registered apprenticeships have the potential to function as a bridge that overcomes refugees’ lack of US work experience and helps them obtain a “Made in America” industry credential – all while earning a living wage.

Imagine what a difference it could make, both financially and emotionally, for some of our higher-skilled clients to be putting their skills to use, learning new skills, gaining credentials, and earning $5+ above minimum wage. (Most apprenticeship positions start around $15/hour).

Challenges to Anticipate

We believe this is a great opportunity, but it won’t be easy to access. As we’ve noted in past posts, the mainstream workforce development system is huge and complex. Many who work in this system are unfamiliar with refugees. In addition, apprenticeships work differently in different states and expertise is largely centralized in federal and state government.

It will take a significant amount of staff time to figure out how things work in your state or locality. One way that refugee employment programs have overcome this challenge is to assign a staff member or volunteer to be liaison to key stakeholders in the mainstream system, including American Job Centers (AJC), Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs), and state/city workforce offices.

With intentional planning and commitment, we believe it’s worth the time to overcome the challenge of access to mainstream programs like Registered Apprenticeship.

3 Ways to Explore Apprenticeship Opportunities

  1. Get to know you state apprenticeship office and other mainstream workforce development players in your area. Start by finding the office for apprenticeship in your state. This list includes all DOL apprenticeship contacts by state.  If you have a hard time connecting with the apprenticeship office, connect with staff at your local American Job Center, and they may be able to help connect you to the right person or organization to talk to.
  1. Search for local apprenticeship opportunities using the map available on the US Department of Labor’s website. You can also use the Apprenticeship Finder search tool on careeronestop.org. It may be strategic to begin intentional outreach efforts with companies and unions that you know have apprenticeships that could match client skills. Take a look at this list of current Apprenticeship grantees to see where apprenticeships may already be happening in your area.
  1. Talk to the employers that you already work with, and make sure they are aware of the federal Registered Apprenticeship program. Who knows? Maybe one of your employer partners would be interested in creating an Apprenticeship program specifically for refugee-background employees. Share this helpful toolkit and  for employers interested in creating Registered Apprenticeship programs.

Resources for Learning More

For more information and resources on Registered Apprenticeships, visit the ApprenticeshipUSA website.

Be sure to look at the ApprenticeshipUSA toolkit, where you can access eLearning modules on the Registered Apprenticeship program, as well as other information about setting up apprenticeship programs and/or marketing them to employers.

If you have any experience with placing refugees in apprenticeships, please email us at information@higheradvantage.org to share your insights on this career path strategy.

Coursera for Refugees: Here NOW

courseraCoursera and the Department of State have partnered to offer Coursera for Refugees as part of a larger White House private sector engagement initiative.

Read more in a previous Higher post or in a recent article in U.S. News if you aren’t already excited about the opportunity this presents for refugees.

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 5.10.21 PMHere is a link to the landing page for Coursera for Refugees.

At a glance – and in the screen shot from the portal on the right – you will see how to sign up and the benefits of doing so. There is a separate link to sign up for the Global Translator Community for volunteer interpreters to help translate Coursera courses into refugee languages.

Where to Start?

Higher strongly recommends that you first open the application, which includes additional information you’ll need in order to consider how your agency will proceed.  Here are three important points we learned by reviewing the application.

1. There are minimum client requirements for eligibility.  Organizations with fewer than 50 refugees with middle- to high-skills and the ability to complete courses in English will not be eligible for financial aid for organizations.  It might make sense to explore with other agencies in your community or at the national resettlement agency level.  You could also consider promoting individual financial aid for qualified refugees instead.

2. Technology access is required.  Internet connectivity and IT resources are required to participate and to afford meaningful access. That doesn’t mean that you have to have a computer lab to participate.  You might partner with a library, Goodwill computer lab or other community resource.  Refugees might have their own technology and connectivity, too.  Coursera courses are mobile optimized.

3. After 12 months, there may be costs to continue.  There is a modest reporting commitment and the financial aid expires after 12  months.  This means it’s important to develop a plan before you apply, so you make the best use of the 12 month access period.

Get in touch at information@higheradvantage.org if you are already making plans or have an organizational financial aid package already. We really want to hear how this looks on the ground.

Informational Interviews

info interviewAn easy-to-understand explanation for you and your clients

Refugee job seekers need to develop networks in the U.S. Informational interviews are an accepted way to build contacts and learn more about their chosen industry here in the U.S.

It sounds good, but what does informational interview really mean and what are practical tips for doing it?

A U.S. news article includes this actual definition of an informational interview and some practical tips that are worth reading. They include how to prepare, what to ask, what NOT to ask and how to follow-up.

What is an informational interview? It refers to an informal conversation between two people, in which one person asks for advice on their career, an industry or a company. The end goal…is to have the person at the company refer them to their employer, but this should not be your expectation; this talk should be seen as an opportunity that could turn into bigger things.

Coursera for Refugees: Coming Soon

CourseCourserara, the largest open online education provider, and the U.S. Department of State have partnered to create Coursera for Refugees. This excellent resource is part of a larger White House private sector engagement intiative.

With this exciting new opportunity, an unlimited number of non-profits that work with refugees will be able to apply for at least one year of group financial aid.

Partner non-profits will be able to support refugees in quickly building career skills and gaining recognizable certificates through access to the 1,000+ Coursera courses offered by schools like Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Edinburgh, and IE Business School. Coursera is mobile optimized, which means refugees can access courses on their mobile devices.

Click here to browse the entire curriculum. Some of the courses include:

  • Your Future Job in Medicine and HealthCare
  • Job Interviews Capstone Course
  • 10 Things Every Engineer Should Know
  • Speak English Professionally (subtitled in Persian!)
  • English for Career Engagement

Coursera for Refugees will also include organizational support services for partner non-profits, such as learner engagement data, private communication forms, and dedicated Coursera technical support.

Higher wasn’t able to find details about how we can sign up. Stay tuned.  And thanks to blog reader Matt Chaterdon at USCCB for finding the original announcement.