3 Tools to Help Identify Your Clients’ Skills

The urgent need for qualified employees in fast-growing fields is shifting employer’s priorities from requiring specific credentials toward identifying in-demand skills. This is beneficial for our clients, who often have the skills required for jobs but do not have U.S. credentials upon arrival. Here are three tools that can help you identify your clients’ skills:

These resources are all linked under the job seekers’ page at Skillful, a web-based initiative that aims to align people looking for work, training programs, and career coaches with the specific skills heavily needed by employers.

This post was written by Guest Blogger, Carrie Thiele.

Refugee Employment in a Strong Economy

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported May 16, 2017 that unemployment levels are down for foreign-born workers in the U.S., shrinking from 4.9 percent in 2015 to 4.3 in 2016. That’s good news!

The reports also suggests, however, that foreign-born workers are more likely than native-born workers to be employed in service occupations and less likely to be employed in management, professional, and related occupations. For foreign-born workers, the median weekly earnings for full-time workers was $715 in 2016, compared with $860 for their native-born counterparts.

More career laddering services may be needed for refugees. As a network, we have an opportunity to capitalize on a strong economy by developing job upgrade programs that increase the economic security of refugee families. Whether your team is large or small, Higher is here to support you as you think about the next step for your clients.

Reach out to us and let us know how we can help!

To see the full report click here.

How to Get Refugees to Living-Wage Work

Guest post from Alicia Wrenn, Assistant Director for Integration at LIRS 

I had the opportunity to attend a Forced Migration Upward Mobility Project (FMUMP) workshop on October 16th in New York City where Dr. Faith Nibbs presented her report Moving into the Fastlane: Understanding Refugee Mobility in the Context of Resettlement. It is great reading and gives us much to think about to improve employment outcomes for clients. One of the main goals of FMUMP is to assist refugees (and employment practitioners), to find jobs that pay a living-wage as defined generally as $5 over the minimum, but it will vary based on the market.

Her team did research in the Dallas and Ft. Worth communities over a period of 2.5 years. They interviewed refugees, employment staff, and scholars – 350 in total.  And they observed 300 hours of service provision and reviewed all available data and literature on the topic.

moving-into-the-fastlane With targeted skills training it took just over one year to break the living wage threshold. The study found this to be the single greatest impact on wages. This was true for all the sub-populations – including highly skilled, low skilled, for men, and for women. Dr Nibbs went through a Return on Investment calculation that showed the net effect when making these wage gains – the savings on government assistance (Food Stamps etc.), plus the increased taxes paid by the refugee at the new wage, and that weighed against the cost of job skills training of approximately $3,000 per person. The ROI to the government is about 600%. So the investment by the government in skills training makes good sense.  

This teaches us a couple of things. Employment teams should be looking for job skills training for clients from all possible sources – government, community college, and company-led – now knowing this is the single biggest influencer. The study found it to be more important than the general English language training that is available. They discovered that the typical ESL that occurs for a few hours per week and teaches general conversation has less of an impact. See the report for interesting ways to improve this instruction such as an on-line platform for more cumulative hours, and the very positive effect of tailoring the vocabulary instruction to the work place. 

Dr. Nibbs had thoughts about other issues undermining living wage attainment. It was discovered that refugee clients are not given an understanding that while yes they need to take the first job, there are certain industries that are much more financially rewarding and will pay a living wage. This research has shown that clients by and large had no idea that they would never make ends meet nor advance up the pay scale in certain sectors. It was thought that Case Managers themselves might not be aware of this hierarchy of earning potential by industry sector.

There are a few interesting pilots occurring to address these gaps. The Office of Refugee Resettlement has funded a Career Navigator position in the State of Washington to determine if this can create a bridge for better placements and better information conveyed to refugees. IRC has five Career Development sites that provide to refugees targeted career training one year after arrival for those unemployed. There should be some interesting learnings down the road.

The report is here –  http://www.fmump.org/ – on the home page there is an option to download. 

You may also be interested in checking out Dr. Nibbs’ presentation at Higher’s Second Annual Refugee Employment Conference, which took place in Omaha, NE in November, 2015: http://www.higheradvantage.org/second-annual-refugee-employment-workshop-resources/ .

Thinking Strategically about Survival Jobs

Source: http://allstarluxury.com

Source: http://allstarluxury.com

It’s never too early to think about the long-term success of our clients. Although our job development efforts are often focused on initial survival jobs for our clients, it’s important to realize that these jobs don’t have to be dead-end jobs. In fact, some of the industries that we commonly place clients in are industries that are expected to experience serious labor shortages.

A recent Fast Company article titled “5 Jobs that Will Be the Hardest to Fill in 2025” summarized a 2016 report by The Conference Board which predicts that the following industries will have the hardest time finding workers in the coming decade:

Skilled Trades– Large numbers of workers are retiring, but fewer young people are choosing these professions. Electricians, machinists, plant and system operators, rail transportation workers and other skilled trades workers will be in high demand.

Health Care– Healthcare workers of all types will be in greater demand in the coming years. Occupational and physical therapy aides, health diagnosing and treating professionals and home health aides are a few of the professions that expect to experience worker shortages.

Manufacturing– U.S. manufacturing will face a shortage of 2 million workers by 2020 in areas ranging from engineering to production workers.

Sales– Everyone knows that sales is a tough gig. In a nation of consumers, companies rely on brilliant sales people, but they struggle to find them. This will continue to be an issue for companies, large and small, in the coming years.

Math-related fields– While STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields in general are not predicted to be at risk for shortages, jobs that require specialized mathematical skills are in danger of not finding enough talent. Some of these jobs include actuaries, statisticians, and mathematically-minded professionals to work in the big-data sector.

Perhaps with the exception of sales (which in most cases is not a good fit for newly arrived refugees), these fields have great potential as career pathways for refugee job seekers, whether low-skilled or high-skilled.

Healthcare and manufacturing are common industries that we place newly arrived refugees in, and not only offer entry-level jobs, but in many cases offer a career path as well.

Skilled trades are a bit harder to access, but there are some refugees who come with these skills, and opportunities such as on-the-job training and apprenticeships can be a helpful entry point for clients who have the skills and the English ability.

And finally, while it may be a smaller percentage of our clients, we’ve all met refugees who bring STEM skills, including mathematical skills, who are so impressive that it’s intimidating (let’s be honest!).

So next time you’re doing employer outreach why not focus on one of these industries? You may find a survival job that leads to a long-term career path or you may find an employer who desperately needs the skills that one of your clients just happens to have!

For more on using labor market information for job development, check out our post “Using Data to Drive Job Development.”

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.


Using Data to Drive Job Development

With such limited time and capacity, you’ve got to make the most out of the time you have for Job Development.

Back in February, we highlighted some online industry research tools available on www.careeronestop.org that can help Job Developers be strategic about what industries they pursue by looking at local labor market information such as fastest growing occupations, most total job openings and occupations with the largest employment.

We’ve recently come across a similar (though less extensive) resource that also presents labor market information, but in a format that is much more user-friendly and more visually appealing.

Where-are-the-jobs.com provides a “graphic representation of occupation employment statistics.” The website was developed by SymSoft Solutions using open data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau, and provides insights on employment trends and salary information for various occupations.

This helpful website allows you to view big-picture information such as top industries across the nation, or filter search results by occupation group, specific occupation, state or metro areas. For example, here is what you get when you filter results for “Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations” in the San Diego – Carlsbad, CA area:

Where are the Jobs Visual

We hope that this tool as well as the resources available at careeronestop.org will increase your ability to use your time wisely and strategically identify the best opportunities for your clients.

If you have any stories about how you’ve used data-driven strategies to drive your job development efforts we’d love to hear them. Share your story by emailing us at information@higheradvantage.org or by using the comments section below.



Workforce Resource: Online Tool for Identifying Prospective Employers

Source: http://allstarluxury.com

Source: http://allstarluxury.com

Welcome to the second 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 case loads and employer relationships.  You can focus on using highlighted resources to help your clients succeed in the U.S. workforce.

In our first post we highlighted The Department of Labor, Education and Training Agency’s Industry Competency Models, which provide detailed information as well as easy to understand visuals explaining the skills needed to advance in a variety of industries.

In this post, we’ll share another online resource that will give you valuable information about a variety of industries and help you identify local employers to target in your job development efforts.

Workforce Resource: Online Tool for Identifying Prospective Employers

The “Explore Careers” section of Careeronestop.org, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, offers several online tools including career profiles, detailed industry information, and occupation comparisons.

Explore Careers 2

Several useful tools for job development can be found on the “What’s hot” page under the “Learn about careers” category (see photo above). In this section you can run several reports including:

Using These Tools to Discover Prospective Employers and Pathways for Your Clients

One of the most helpful features of these reports is that they allow you to filter the results by education level (some high school up to master’s degree or higher). This feature can be used to find opportunities based on client’s education/skill level or to show clients the education that will be necessary to obtain to accomplish their career goals.

Select Education Level

Once you select which type of trends you want to see and the education level, you will get a list of occupations, which you can filter by state. This will give you a general idea of what industries might be worth pursuing in your region. Here’s an example of the Top 25 Fastest Growing Occupations from the state of Ohio for job seekers with an education level of “some high school”:


How You Can Find Thousands of Employers to Target!

From the list of occupations (above) you can click on the links to see Occupation Profiles which will give descriptions of the occupations and highlight national and state trends. To find actual employers to contact go to the dropdown menu in the top right hand corner and choose “Business Finder” which will redirect you to another page where you can search for businesses by occupation and city.

So let’s say you want to search for construction laborers in Columbus, OH. Here’s what you get:

Construction Laborers

4,021 employers to add to your prospecting list!

Do you need to expand your employer network and create some new opportunities for your clients? There is no better way to go about accomplishing this goal than to identify local industries that are growing, need people, and offer jobs that fit your clients’ skills and/or educational backgrounds.

This tool is a great place to start!

Workforce Resource: Industry Competency Models

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 6.44.35 PM

Welcome to the first of a new blog post 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 case loads and employer relationships.  You can focus on using highlighted resources to help your clients succeed in the U.S. workforce.

Workforce Resource: Industry Competency Models

Career pathways for upward mobility in a particular sector or industry are built on a mix of soft skills and technical expertise gained through a combination of education, training and on the job experience.

The Department of Labor Education and Training Agency (DOL-ETA) has worked with a range of industry stakeholders to create 25 industry competency models in 10 industries, which are:

  1. Manufacturing,
  2. Health care/social assistance,
  3. Professional,
  4. Scientific and technical services (e.g. engineering),
  5. Energy/Utilities,
  6. Construction,
  7. Information (IT, Finance and Insurance),
  8. Accommodation and Food Services,
  9. Transportation and Warehousing,
  10. Retail Trades, and
  11. Other (Entrepreneurship)

You can access all of them through a web-based Clearinghouse that includes instructions, resources and examples of how they can be used. They are intended to identify industry needs and serve as resources for curriculum development and to develop programs to support career ladders in those industries.

Each of the models includes specific skill requirements for achieving lifelong career success in the featured industry, including specific management-level competencies.

A clickable link to ONet’s listing of occupational competencies is also included. Many of you already use ONet to research types of jobs within an industry, identify specific skill requirements employers want in qualified applicants and find concise language to include in client resumes.

Food Service Industry Example

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation contributed to the development of the Food Service Industry competency model.

This model includes expanded management-level skill requirements and you can also see career advancement pathways at a glance.

How You Can Use This Resource
Define Customer Service

Customer service is a common soft skill we talk about with clients in all kinds of job readiness activities. The competency models link to details of four specific customer service competencies (skills): Understanding customer needs, providing personalized service, acting professionally and keeping customers informed.

Demonstrate Career Ladders

Each competency model clearly outlines the required skills for success and advancement. For example, if a client doesn’t have those skills, yet, they can explore lower level career options or think about how to acquire the skills for future job upgrades. If you’re working to help higher skilled clients adjust their expectations, competency models will help them see how a starter job leads to the career they want. If client dreams are not fully informed by reality, they can quickly spot new skills they aren’t interested in and begin to understand that this career might not be the best fit for them.

Increasing the Results of Your Work

You can use the information to better understanding employer needs, craft better client resumes or applications and design job readiness training or in-house vocational training curriculums.

Showing these models to clients when you discuss their employability plans will add credible official information to reinforce what you tell them or give them a resource to learn more as they are ready for job upgrades or professional development.

Let us know if this new blog feature is useful for you and tell us how you were able to use it in your work at information@higheradvantage.org.




Using Labor Market Statistics

HPOG labor market

Exactly what you can learn from this report

Click here to download a great resource from the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families.

It will help you get better at this fundmental of our work.

Developed to support the Health Professional Opportunity Grants (HPOG) program, this resource is convincing, practical and accessible and will help you get better at this fundamental of of our work.

It combines the big picture of why labor market data is important with data sources, real life examples and practical steps you can take to develop, analyze and utilize several specific kinds of information.






Long-term Labor Market Trends

Where the jobs areThe Harvard Business Review analyses long term hiring trends with five charts (click here) and analysis.

The bottom line is that economic recovery has not delivered enough jobs to match 2008 levels but certain sectors and industries have experienced steady growth.

Government is the top sector, followed by education and health services.  Growth in home health care jobs didn’t surprise me.  Lack of growth in information industry jobs did.