New Mapping Tool from IMPRINT

Looking for resources and partners that can help you serve highly skilled refugees? Our friends at IMPRINT recently released an interactive map that allows you to see what organizations and resources are available for skilled immigrants in your area and nationally.

The tool also provides state-by-state data about college educated foreign-born individuals, based on 2015 American Community Survey data.

Explore this awesome tool by clicking on the map below:


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 – – 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: .

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 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. 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 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 or by using the comments section below.



Workforce Resource: Online Tool for Identifying Prospective Employers



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, 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!

Demographic Research about Islam and Muslims

Arabic calligraphy is so beautiful. Can anyone tell me what this says?

Click here to read data about Muslims and Islam in the U.S. and around the world from the Pew Reserach Center. No need to restate all of the reasons why you will find this useful.


How Can Refugee Employment Professionals Respond to Paris Attacks?

parisWhat are any immediate effects you’re hearing related to client jobs and employer partners after the horrible events in Paris this weekend? Please share what you’re experiencing and how you’re responding at

Employers may have questions and concerns. Refugee’s work colleagues may be afraid or angry and react accordingly. Refugees may fear real or imagined consequences.

You could check in with key employers and working clients who might need extra support.  When you know what’s going on, you can consider how to respond.

We’ll collect advice and experience from the network and share employment services strategies to consider.

Meanwhile, here is an excellent step-by-step explanation of the rigorous security process that every refugee being considered for U.S. resettlement must complete before we receive them. Thanks to USCRI for making it widely available for all.


Free Resource: Urban Institute Net Income Calculator

net income example 0Sometimes, it’s hard to know if a refugee family will really be better off if they add additional income to the mix.  “If a low-income family earns more money, how much will the family’s benefits from safety-net programs go down, how much will state and federal income and payroll taxes change, and how much will the family’s total income go up?”

The Net Income Calculator, a user-friendly tool from The Urban Institute gives you the bottom line and makes a complex calculation relatively simple.

How it Works

You first select the variable you want to test – either wages earned or hours worked.  The tool generates scenarios at a few different intervals for comparison.

To test the tool, Higher plugged in numbers for a family of 5 (children ages 10, 4 and 2) living in Texas.  The husband earns $8.00/hour in a full time job.  The wife has the opportunity to add income from a 20 hour a week job earning minimum wage.  The tool requires estimates of unsubsidized monthly rent and total child care costs.

All calculations related to benefit amounts, tax credits and taxes are built into the model.  All of you definitely have enough knowledge to use the tool accurately and you don’t have to be a math whiz, either.

Information it Delivers
net income example

Amount of new earnings “kept” vs “taxed”

Several charts are generated to show you the net impact on family finances at two different levels.  In our example, the levels are 20 and 40 hours a week of added income from the wife’s potential new job.

net income example 2

Composition of monthly net income for the household

You can see two of the charts delivered for our example at left and below.



This example is consistent with my experience in Austin, TX.  There is less than $100 net increase in family income in adding a parttime job for the wife.  Are there other benefits, including improved English and future work opportunities?  Yes.

Do those outweigh the concerns the family might have about childcare, cultural factors and additional stress?  No matter the support and coaching you provide, the final decision is up to the family.




5 Largest Refugee Groups of the Last 20 Years

Top 5 Resettlement Populations in 20 Years from Al Jazeera US

A Russian family arrives in Washington State in 2009. Photo Credit: Kai-Huei Yau/AP

How many times have you discovered successful clients you didn’t really realize were resettled in your city? If they’re in a position to help you connect with a new employer, even better.

With the turnover in our network, many of us don’t know the history of our work. Others lived it but might have lost touch with some of those early clients.

Click here to read about the 5 biggest refugee populations we have resettled in the past 20 years.  If anyone has a story or additional facts to share, let us know.


Start the New Year Right – With a Higher Webinar!

Youre-InvitedLearn how to advocate for client rights, make employer lives easier and expedite client passage of work authorization verification.

Join keynote presenters from the Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel to learn all of this and more.  Even if you’re experienced in our work, you’ll learn some new detail to help clients get to work faster.

Please join us Wednesday, January 28th at 3pm EST.  Register for the webinar here.


Where to Find Refugee Resettlement Programs

ORR MapORR’s website has a clickable US map where you can find lists of all of the ORR-funded refugee resettlement programs in each state.  Click here and consider bookmarking the site for futurre reference.

It’s useful when employers want to tell their colleagues how to get great employees and supportive services.

Sometimes, clients outmigrate and you might want to give them information about where they might seek services in their new community.

If nothing else, it’s interesting to see where our work happens all over the country.