Holiday Gift Guide – Any Recommendations?

Do you know of any businesses or products that should be featured in Higher’s annual holiday gift guide?  We have a great list started for this year’s guide, but it can always be better!  

Stay tuned for our annual holiday gift guide blog post. We’ll put all of your recommendations into one post to make your holiday shopping as easy as possible.  

Please submit your recommendations by commenting below or by contacting us.

Job Readiness Activities for Adult Learners

Last week in Denver, attendees in the job readiness session participated in an activity to list the tools, resources and activities they currently use with clients.  Here’s the combined list.  If possible, a link to a version of the activity is included.  If you have a different version of any activity, or you have any resources to add, please contact us so we can update the list!

Interview Practice

Mock Interviews

Record Clients & Play Back for Client

Practice Interview Questions

Interactive Activities

Job Readiness Bingo

Body Language Activities

Flash Card Bowling

Welcome Circle: Begin Class by Asking Everyone Name, Origin, Languages and their First Job

First Day: Classroom Expectations – Importance of Classroom Success

Incorporating Certificates after Job Day Trainings

Resume Jeopardy

Skills

Identifying Skills that Refugees Have – Physical vs. Personal Skills

Explain How to Transfer Skills

Look at Job Listing Examples and ask, “Do you have the skills?”

Presentations

Picture Heavy PowerPoint

Visual Resources

Pictures

Describe Career Dreams Using Pictures

Videos

Videos to show the Work Done at Different Jobs

Quality Control Video – Quality, Quantity

Cards

Realia – Safety Gear

Higher Resources

Higher Advantage Modules

U.S. Job Cycle Visual (page 2)

Guided Practice

Mock Hotel Environment – Practice

Dishwasher Training at Location

Time Clock Practice

Time Clock for Attendance

Production Line Simulation

6-Day Training Spurts (short-term)

Applications & Resumes

Resume Preparation

Filling out Applications

Applications Planted at Businesses

In Class Resume Building (Skeleton Version)

Practice Application

Job Search

How to Find Jobs

Digital Literacy

Computer Lab

Mobile Computer Labs

Group Discussions

Small Group Discussion about Hygiene & Dress

Small Groups – Have clients create their own business & say what skills are needed for job

Specific Training Topics

Safety Classes: Use signs with Pictures, explain what signs mean. Explain the importance of reporting issues

Lessons on Trauma and the Impact of Trauma

Workplace Culture (i.e. handshakes & other non-verbal communication)

Job Security/Responsibility to Communicate with Supervisors (2 weeks notice)

Coworker relationships, manners, mannerisms

Hygiene, Grooming

Transportation – Teaching bus lines

English Instruction

Translated Materials

Mandatory ESL

Teach Job-Appropriate Vocabulary

Community Partnerships

Clothing Donations as Incentives

Local Library Partnerships

Adding Social Enterprises into your Curriculum

Financial Literacy

I-9 & W-2 (Tax & Pay)

Explain Payroll, Direct Deposit and Tax Forms

Assist with Opening Bank Account

Translators/Interpreters

Record Videos of Interpreters

Assessments

Go Over Pre-Employment Assessment (Reading Comprehension)

Mock Interview/Application Process as Assessment

Other

Self-Reflection

Tour at Companies

CORE

Childcare (Paid Employees)

One-on-One Pre-Employment Counseling

Wish List

More Tactile Activities

Child Care Resources – Toys for Kids

Notes

Factoring in Trauma when making Job Placements

Meat Packing isn’t good for People with Trauma

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/ .

Strengthening Employer Relationships Through Effective Follow-Up

phone-cartoonConsultative Selling for Refugees, Part 4: Follow-up

During the optional day at our Second Annual Refugee Employment Workshop last November, international job development consultant Allen Anderson gave 70+ refugee employment professionals a crash course on a model of Job Development known as Consultative Selling.

We’ve already shared a birds-eye-view of what Allen presented, but now we want to zoom in and talk about the model in more detail.

This is the final post of our 4-part series on Consultative Selling that looks at the basics of the model, as well as adaptations from refugee employment programs who have begun using it.

The “4-Step Road Map”

There are many facets to this model but the basic framework can be found in what Allen Anderson calls “The 4-Step Road Map.” These four steps include: Prospecting, Needs Analysis, Selling and Follow-up—in other words, the process of finding, developing and maintaining employer relationships.

Four-step Roadmap

In part one of this series we looked at Prospecting Strategies for identifying new employment opportunities. Prospecting can include making cold calls, visiting prospective employers or other types of initial outreach to local employers.

In part two, we discussed the Needs Analysis – the meeting where you sit down with an employer and ask them a series of questions in order to discover their important needs. You then use that information to identify clients that will meet a given employer’s needs.

Part three outlined strategies for Selling your solutions to employers.

In this post we’ll look at the final step in the model, Follow-up.

What is Follow-up?

Follow-up is the final stage of the Consultative Selling process. You’ve prospected and found the job opportunity. You’ve conducted a Needs Analysis to find out exactly what the employer needs and wants. You’ve sold them on your services and clients as the right solution. Now it’s time to deliver.

Follow-up is follow-through.

When most refugee employment professionals think of “follow-up”, they think of the job retention requirements of their respective employment programs. For example, following-up with employers and clients at 90 days to see if the client is still working is a common requirement and measure of employment retention.

These traditional follow-up procedures are helpful, but it’s easy to get in the rut of simply “checking the box”, and not think strategically about the intersection between post-employment follow-up and employer engagement.

The Consultative Selling model expands on the traditional approach to follow-up, focusing not just on meeting a requirement, but rather on cultivating long-term relationships with employers.

In Consultative Selling, Follow-up starts with delivering on what you promised (connecting an employer with a candidate who meets their needs and providing ongoing support as needed) and also includes ongoing efforts to keep employers engaged, thus creating opportunities for future business.

Follow-up in this model is about much more than checking a box; it’s about making successful placements that meet retention and result in long-term employer partnerships and ultimately, more job opportunities for our clients.

effective-follow-up

Delivering on What You Promised

Let’s be honest. As intimidating as job development can be, convincing an employer to hire a refugee is in some ways the easy part- or at least the part you have the most control over. Connecting the right client to the right job and trouble-shooting the challenges that often arise after clients begin working is often much harder.

Getting a job is one thing; keeping it is another.

With all of the challenges that our clients face in adjusting to a brand new culture we will never be able to guarantee that every placement will work out. Our long-time employer partners tend to understand that and have worked with enough refugees that have been amazing employees that an occasional hire who doesn’t work out won’t phase them.

But it’s a different ball-game when you’re working with an employer who is hiring a refugee for the first time. We all know that we need to do everything in our power to make that first placement a success, or that that employer may lose interest in working with us very quickly.

So what can you do to increase the chances of success, both for your clients and for your relationships with employers?

Here’s a few tips:

  • Be careful not to over-promise and under-deliver. During the selling stage (before follow-up) emphasize the breadth of skills that your clients can offer and your supportive services, but don’t sell the employer on specific clients until you are sure that the opportunity will work for the client(s) you have in mind.
  • Once the employer has committed to considering your client(s), ask for a little time to talk to the client(s) that you have in mind and to ensure that you are making the best match– but let the employer set the time frame. You’ve got to use your emotional intelligence to read the situation and know how much time to ask for. Maybe it’s the end of the day, by the next day, or by the end of the week, but the point is you buy yourself some time to double-check all the factors- that the client is able and willing to do the job, that their is a realistic plan for transportation (don’t forget to think about the shift client will be working), and that the job will provide the income required to meet the client’s needs. Taking this little bit of extra time is in the best interest of everyone involved.
  • Encourage the employer to interview a few different clients for the position(s), since they are the best judge of what they need. This will also help the employer be invested in hiring decision, and will minimize the possibility of all the blame being put on you if things don’t work out.
  • Use strategies such as mock interviews and skills tests (formal or otherwise) to predict client performance in interviews or on the job. For example, the Catholic Charities refugee employment program in Cleveland, OH works with some assembly factories, and some employers provide basic materials so that the employment program can identify promising candidates by testing clients on aptitude and speed in assembling materials.
  • When possible, arrange in-person tours of the work area for potential candidates so that clients understand what the job is and what will be required of them (before agreeing to accept the job).
  • Provide easy reference materials for employers that outline the supportive services that you provide and what to do when challenges arise or interpretation is needed. Don’t forget to include all the contact information for your employment program so that they will have your information at their fingertips next time they are ready to hire (and also so that the employer has more than one way to contact your team so that staff turn-over doesn’t result in lost employer connections).

Creating Opportunities for Future Business

Congratulations! You found the job, got to know the employer’s needs, sold them on your solutions, and delivered on what you promised! This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship…hopefully.

What can you do to build on that first placement and keep employers engaged so that next time they need to hire, they think of you?

Yes, you should still do those regular follow-ups! A quick follow-up (within the first week or two) with both employer and client after the initial hire is always a good idea just to quickly catch any problematic issues that may have come to light before they become big problems. And of course the traditional 30, 60, 90 day follow-ups are necessary and good.

But beyond the typical check-ins, here are some strategies that refugee employment programs around the country are using to stay connected to established employer partners while also creating opportunities for new connections:

  •  Job Fairs: Hosting job fairs can be a fantastic way to provide free access to great candidates for employers (the only cost is a couple hours of their time), and also provide an excellent opportunity for clients to build networking and interviewing skills in a safe space where they don’t have to compete with hundreds of other candidates.
  • Happy Hours: Who doesn’t love an invitation to a Happy Hour? IRC Baltimore put this strategy on our radar, and has found it to be a great way to connect with both new and established employer partners. Employers like it because it’s an easy way to stay connected to the IRC, but also a great opportunity to network with others in the community. To read more about this strategy, click here.
  • Employer Appreciation Events: We all like to be recognized. Help employers feel good about hiring refugees. Have an employer appreciation breakfast, lunch or dinner- whatever makes sense. Appreciating employers can be as simple as a thank you card with a Starbucks gift card or as elaborate as a plaque they receive at your annual fundraising banquet. For more employer appreciation ideas click here!
  • The “Candy bowl” Strategy: Provide a candy bowl for the reception area of employers you work with. They get candy. You get a regular excuse to visit them!
  • Get to Know Employer Hiring Trends: Many employer’s hiring seasons and hiring slow-downs are fairly predictable. Ask employers which months tend to be slow and which months they do a lot of hiring. Put notes on your calendar to set up meetings with employers right towards the end of the slow seasons, right before things are going to pick up again. This will show them that you are considerate of their time, and also positions you to be on their radar when it’s time to hire.
  • Go to their stuff! Look for opportunities to participate in community or networking events that your employment partners participate in. Volunteer with an employer partner. Speak at a professional association. Learn about their industry at events open to the public. Participate in your local Workforce Investment Board or Chamber of Commerce. And don’t forget your business cards!

As you can see from the above strategies, although follow-up (delivering on what you promised and creating opportunities for future business) may be the final step in the “4-Step Road Map” it may be more accurate to say that it is the final step in a cycle that resets the job development process, in which you return to prospecting (finding job opportunities) through strengthening relationships with established employer partners and working within those employer networks to make new connections.

What strategies do you use to deliver on what you promised and create opportunities for future business? Let us know at information@higheradvantage.org.

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.”

Webinar Announcement: International Perspectives On Connecting Immigrant and Refugee Youth to Employment

Looking for ideas and inspiration for connecting immigrant and refugee youth to employment? Tuning in to ideas from other countries resettling refugees can be a helpful way to get some fresh perspective and think outside the box.

This Wednesday at 10:00 AM EST, Canada-based Cities of Migration will host a webinar featuring “enterprising ideas from Stockholm and Paris that are connecting talented young people to jobs while helping businesses tap the diversity advantage.”

The webinar will highlight strategies such as social enterprises, vocational training and mentorship programs that help prepare under/un-employed immigrant and refugee youth for the labour market while promoting the values of corporate diversity and leadership to employers.

To register, click here: http://citiesofmigration.ca/webinar/youthemployment/

Soft Skills: A Fundamental in Our Work

We think a lot about skills and what employers are looking for in new hires.  Even though this data was published by the Confederation of British Industry, it closely mirrors what we experience in our job development efforts with employers and job readiness preparation with clients.  Take a quick look at this graphic to remind yourself of the importance of “soft skills” and characteristics over specific technical skills and experience.

education-skills-infographic-02

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to spend more time thinking about soft skills and how to help clients understand why they are valuable and how to convey that value to employers?  Check out Higher’s eLearning course How to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions. Also, review these three previous Higher blog posts:

Upcoming Learning Opportunities

Friday, October 7, 2016 – American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) Conference

What: This Friday, the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) will hold their second conference, Integrating Migrants into the Workforce.  Bringing together nonprofit, educational, corporate, and federal and local government actors from the United States and Germany, this conference will highlight both countries’ strengths of educating the workforce (Germany) and integrating newcomers into society (United States). To learn more about this event, visit the AICGS website.

Where: Washington, DC

When: Friday, October 7, 2016 from 8:30 am – 2:30 pm (EST)

How: Register to attend here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 – Free Webinar: Job-Ready, Set, Go! Connecting Immigrant and Refugee Youth to Employment

What: Cities of Migration is hosting a free webinar to explore enterprising ideas from Stockholm and Paris that are connecting talented young people to jobs while helping businesses tap the diversity advantage.

Where: Online – learn more about this event here.

When: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 at 10 am (EST)

How: Register to attend here.

Religious Observance and Employment: Work Schedules

coexistComplete schedule flexibility is a very common requirement for both full and part time entry level jobs. Adding schedule conflicts for any reason, no matter how legitimate and important, makes our clients less competitive in the job market.

This post focuses on practical solutions and talking points in line with the reality of starter jobs, early employment and rapid self sufficiency. There are many legal and civil rights issues surrounding religious freedom and workplace accommodation of religious observance in the workplace.  You can read more about them in this guide from the Anti-Defamation League.

The Employer Perspective

Work schedules change from week to week depending on workload, time off requests and emergencies. Managers schedule carefully.  Absences or tardiness make their jobs harder.  Other team members pay the price in schedule changes and increased workloads. When hiring, employers often decide to hire a candidate who can be completely flexible to work any schedule as necessary.

Many starter jobs are customer service positions that need to be done during busy times for the employer. The majority of customers in the U.S. are able to shop on weekends. That’s when many hospitality and retail businesses are busiest. Most employers that are open on Saturdays and Sundays cannot guarantee regularly scheduled weekend days off to any employee.

The Reality for Most U.S. Workers

Weekends are when many religious observances happen for a variety of faiths.  The reality is that, often in their first job, no U.S. worker can expect to have regularly-scheduled days off on weekends. It would be irresponsible not to explain this fact very carefully to all clients who would strongly prefer to have weekends off for religious reasons. Doing so can also help clients avoid feelings of discrimination and protect valuable employer partnerships by screening out clients for whom the job might not be the best fit.

Talking Points for a Difficult Client Conversation

Explaining U.S. workplace expectations and cultural assumptions about religious observance is an aspect of helping clients adjust their expectations. Here are some additional talking points you can use when discussing religious observance and work schedules with clients:

  • In the US Workforce, seniority is often the best long term solution. Over time, employees are able to secure work schedules that better meet their needs. This point also reinforces the importance of sticking to a job rather than quitting too soon or hopping from job to job.
  • Over time, as clients acquire more US workforce experience, they may be able to secure a job upgrade that can offer the schedule flexibility they require.  The “best” job isn’t always the one that pays the most. We can help clients understand the factors they need to consider when deciding what is the best job for them.
  • Another solution, depending on employer policies, would be to discuss a trade with other employees who would prefer to have a different weekend day off for their own religious observance.  This solution will be more likely after a few months to demonstrate the value the client contributes in the workplace and the benefits of partnership with your agency. 

How Three Refugee Families Decided to Handle Religious Observance

Here are three quick examples of the different decisions three very observant refugee families made about working on weekends.

1.  The head of a large Muslim family felt that he had no choice but to accept a hotel housekeeping job that offered very little initial schedule flexibility. He stuck with the job and after only five months, he was able to secure a better work schedule that allowed him to work a split shift every Friday so he could attend mosque.

2.  A Christian family chose part time work at a business that was closed on Sunday. That meant that both the husband and wife had to work to earn enough money to meet their basic expenses, but were both able to attend church services regularly.

3.  A very large Seventh Day Adventist family stated from the beginning that their priority was their children’s education. So, despite the conflict with their wish to observe a Saturday day of rest, both parents took the first available job. Now, after six years in the U.S., they own their own home and all four of their children are enrolled in or have completed higher education.

Happy International Day of Peace

susdev8Pause for a few minutes today to contemplate what peace means for all people on the United Nations International Day of Peace.

“Let us all work together to help all human beings achieve dignity and equality; to build a greener planet; and to make sure no one is left behind.” — UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon

Every single one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals is a building block in the global architecture of peace.  Learn more about the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including number 8, which is focused on employment.  If you’d rather learn by rap, spend two minutes listening to this video.