Want a well-paying job with benefits for your clients? Consider apprenticeships!

According to experts on National Public Radio’s (WAMU 88.5) program that originally aired on June 12th titled How To Earn Six Figures Without A Four-Year Degree, by 2025 there will be two million jobs needing skilled labor that will go unfilled if today’s labor market conditions hold. The program featured four experts from different backgrounds who discussed the merits of apprenticeship job training over more traditional forms of education.

The takeaway for you:

  • Many jobs do not require four year college degrees and pay middle income wages, including some in the six figures
  • Many positions are most easily accessed via apprenticeships

What is an apprenticeship?

  1. It is typically a three to four year training program where you are learning the building blocks of a specific job, leading to mastery in an occupational area and professional certification that travels with you. Some apprenticeships are for a set amount of time, while others are competency-based, allowing apprentices to complete their training as fast as their aptitude allows.
  2. You are working and getting paid while also completing academic coursework that is tailored to the position and provides a foundational and conceptual framework.
  3. You are learning under direct supervision of a skilled expert.
  4. You are training to take an available job with that same company.

Apprenticeships have been around for centuries but in the last century they lost favor as the four-year college experience was increasingly sought after and promoted by parents and school guidance counselors. This trend appears to be reversing however. Factors including an aging American workforce, the career preferences of younger American workers, and the emergence of new technologies requiring specialized skills have all contributed to an ever-increasing gap between available jobs and good candidates for those jobs. As a result, there is a renewed interest in apprenticeships as a strategy for incentivizing workers and filling labor shortages.

Panelist Robert Lerman, a Fellow at the Urban Institute and a founder of the American Institute for Innovative Apprenticeship, discussed the difficulty of the school-based-only approach for some young people.  Courses in a four-year degree program do not always feature relevant, skill-based learning, so why spend the time and money? To illustrate this point the program spoke with Cory McCray, a current Delegate in the Maryland House of Representatives and former electrician who completed an apprenticeship with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. As an apprentice in the construction trade McCray did not assume the levels of debt accrued by his peers who went to four-year colleges because he had fewer classes and completed paid work as part of his training. He argues that the academic coursework he did have was motivating because it led to a quality performance on the job.

Other panelists spoke about the challenges of making an informed decision about a career path without some significant exposure in the workplace. For example, businesses in the tech industry find that hands-on workplace learning is essential to helping staff gain mastery in their field. Ken Hitchcock, Director of the Pickens County Career and Technology Center in Liberty, South Carolina stated that many apprenticeships provide additional support to those that believe they have poor math abilities or those that need English language support by providing remedial classes.

In what industries are apprenticeships located?

According to guest Nicholas Wyman, CEO of the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation, there are lots of opportunities in a variety of industries: manufacturing, IT (including cyber security), health, finance, aeronautics, mechanics, electronics, culinary arts, and construction.

Finding national and state registered apprenticeship programs in your area.

Check with your Workforce Development Board for the resources in your community. As an example, check out this great resource produced by the Oakland County Workforce Development agency in Michigan and provided by Jennifer Llewellyn, Manager of the agency.

You will find general and location-specific information on apprenticeships here at the Department of Labor Apprenticeship USA website.

So let’s get to work for our clients of all ages!

Additional Resources                                                      

See previous blog post on apprenticeships from Higher:

http://www.higheradvantage.org/workforce-resource-registered-apprenticeship/

National Apprenticeship Week is November 13-19

https://www.dol.gov/apprenticeship/NAW/

This post is written by Guest Blogger Alicia Wrenn, Assistant Director of Integration at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. Does your agency utilize apprenticeships for clients? If, yes please let Higher know by writing us at information@higheradvantage.org.

Understanding a Paycheck-Online Learning with Higher

Looking for a great tool on how to understand a paycheck? Higher has developed the perfect tool for you and your clients. Our eLearning module Understanding Your Paycheck, is available through Higher’s Online Learning Institute.

Here are five reasons to check out this resource, according to your peers:

  1. Less than six minutes to complete the course.

“The module is really well developed and covers all the aspects of the paycheck in a very short duration of the time.”  Bidur Dahal, Education Trainer at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains

  1. A great addition to any job readiness class.

“This module was a great tool. I thought it was very user friendly and clear. We will use this in our first job readiness class…” Lauren Brockett, Director of Employment Services at Friends of Refugees – Cafe Clarkston

  1. Use it for employment orientation.

“It clarifies the paycheck, pay stub and deductions very well. I am really excited about this module and will be very happy to present it to my clients. I will try to make it part of my employment orientation.”  Kawa Hawari, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota

  1. More of a story than a training.

“I thought it was excellent! I definitely see this as a great job readiness workshop resource. We talk to our clients about understanding pay stubs in detail, but I like this module so much because there’s a story to it—it makes it so much more relatable. Looking forward to being able to use this for our clients!”  Tawni Floyd, Employment Manager at World Relief Tri-Cities

  1. More than just the basics.

“The paycheck module it’s great and short, so that will make it easy to show in class with interpreters. I also like the emphasis on respectfully talking to your boss if you think there is a problem with your paycheck. I love these modules.”  Jessica Ploen, Employment Training Specialist at Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska

There are 12 other training modules available on Higher’s Online Learning Institute to help you in your work.  Check them out by signing in or registering as a new user here.

An eLearning Resource: Interview Behavior Videos

Ever wanted to be able to show clients what a bad interview looks like? Well you are in luck, check out Higher’s Online Learning Institute. You can access the complete module right now with your username and password.  If you aren’t already taking advantage of our 13 eLearning courses, sign up here for instant access to these videos and the other eLearning courses.

Here are 4 things to know about this exciting new resource:

  1. There are two short videos with examples of good and bad interview behaviors.
  2. You can also get transcripts and suggestions for using the module with clients in the companion resource section.
  3. More than 20 resettlement programs across the country are using our eLearning courses in their job readiness activities.
  4.  The job seekers in the videos are refugees. Thanks to them and to African Community Center (ACC), Denver, CO for helping out.

Here’s a sneak peek at Interview Behavior Videos. 

Email Higher at information@higheradvantage.org to let us know what you think, how you’re using our latest eLearning resource and what else would be helpful.

Consultative Selling Resource Pack

In the past couple years Higher has introduced our network to a job development model known as Consultative Selling. In addition to providing training on Consultative Selling at various Higher training events, we also published a four-part blog series and facilitated a 1-year online Community of Practice (CoP) group focused on adapting this model for refugee employment.

In order to continue helping our network learn and practice this approach to job development, we put together this resource pack, including our intitial Consultative Selling blog series and recordings of all 3 CoP calls.

Consultative Selling Blog Series

Click on the links below to read Higher’s 4-part blog series on the four primary aspects of the Consultative Selling model: Prospecting, Needs Analysis, Selling, and Follow-up:

Illustration by Gary Phelps / EMM Wichita

Part One:Hitting the Target: Prospecting Techniques That Work

Part Two:Understanding Employers’ Needs and Providing Solutions

Part Three:Providing and Selling Workforce Solutions

Part Four:Strengthening Employer Relationships Through Effective Follow-up


2016 Job Development Community of Practice (3 Presentations)

In 2016 Higher facilitated a Community of Practice (CoP) for refugee employment staff who had attended the one day training put on by Allen Anderson at our Second Annual Refugee Employment Workshop in November 2015 in Omaha, NE (to hear a little bit from Allen, check out the Innovations and Opportunities panel discussion from our Second Annual Refugee Employment Workshop page).

Over time the CoP expanded to include coworkers of the original members, and other refugee employment staff who received Consultative Selling training from Higher at separate events. You can access video recordings of these three online events below:

 

  

   

For more on Consultative Selling, click here.

If you are using this model, we would love to hear about your experience. Please email us at information@higheradvantage.org.

Volunteer Engagement

8 Ways Volunteers Can Support Refugee Employment 

hs-245-laura-1Guest post by Laura Griffin, Program Coordinator for Volunteerism at LIRS 

We all know the feeling of not having enough hours in the day. One way to stretch your ability to serve refugee clients is to make volunteer support a core part of your employment program. 

A few weeks ago, I sat down with dozens of people from refugee employment programs around the country to ask: How do volunteers and interns support your work?

Here are 8 Ways to Leverage Volunteer Support for Refugee Employment:

1. One-on-One Job Readiness Support 

Volunteers can sit down with individual clients to practice for interviews, edit resumes, fill out job applications, and/or practice skills like how to use the computer to search for jobs.

2. Guest Speakers and Experts

Bring in volunteers as guest speakers from relevant fields (like IT) to talk with clients about the skills employers in their industry look for in job applicants.

3. Support for Highly Skilled Clients

Volunteers can provide individualized job readiness and placement assistance to highly skilled refugee clients.

4. Mentoringmentoring

Mentoring can focus on advanced job readiness training or industry-specific mentoring. If you are interested in designing a mentoring program to assist refugees with long-term career planning, see the free LIRS Guide for Employment Mentoring.

5. Assist with Job Development

Volunteers can help establish employer leads through community outreach, targeted calling and online searching. One participant shared that they have volunteers research job opportunities and send initial emails to potential employers to start the conversation.

6. Increase Access to Service

Volunteers can help enable clients to access employment services by providing rides or offering child care during job readiness classes.

7. Career Fairs 

Have volunteers take clients to career fairs and help them follow up with potential job leads

8. Case Support and Service Plans 

While it can seem a bit daunting, many participants shared success stories of having interns and star volunteers manage cases and design service plans.

How do you leverage volunteers and interns?  Leave a comment below or contact us if you use volunteers and interns to support your refugee employment programs.

Related: Additional Employment Volunteer Resources, New Collection of Employment Volunteer Resources

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.

 

 

Understanding Employers’ Needs and Providing Solutions

The perfect employee

Consultative Selling for Refugees, Part 2: Needs Analysis

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 post is the second of a 4-part series that will share the basics of the model, as well as adaptations from refugee employment programs who have already been 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 Roadmap.” 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 RoadmapIn part one, we introduced Consultative Selling and the first step in “The 4-Step Roadmap”: Prospecting. Prospecting involves finding job opportunities and asking for an initial appointment.

In this post we’ll move on to step two, the Needs Analysis, and talk about what you actually do in that first appointment.

What is a Needs Analysis?

Michael ScottIn the Consultative Selling model, a Needs Analysis is a 30-60 minute appointment with the hiring decision maker(s). The objective of a Needs Analysis is to introduce yourself to the employer and to ask questions that help you understand the employer’s needs, values and goals.

Asking a hiring manager well-thought-out questions can help you bypass the “wish-list” of qualifications that are often listed on formal job descriptions and give you a clear picture of what an employer is really looking for.

The Needs Analysis will also help you identify the costs, benefits, and overall value that working with refugees will bring to the employer.

All of this information will help you evaluate whether or not you can provide a solution that will meet the employers stated needs or desires.

If the answer is no, you walk away. If it is yes, then you move on to the third step – Selling.

Key Needs Analysis Questions

“Questions are the gold mine of Job Development,” says Allen Anderson. Over time you will develop your own list of go-to questions that work for you, but here are some examples to get you started:

  • What positions exist at this company (not just current openings)?
  • What tasks are associated with these positions?
  • What skills-sets do you most need?
  • What is the most important characteristic you are looking for in employees?
  • What factors typically disqualify candidates from being selected?
  • What type of employees tend to advance in this company?
  • What challenges or frustrations do you face in finding or keeping good employees?

Should You Make the Sale During the Needs Analysis?

We’re not going to get into the “selling” step until the next post, but you may be wondering whether you should try to sell the employer on your services during this appointment or at a later time. Well, it depends. As Kenny Rogers says:

Kenny Rogers

Most of us have heard the expression “You snooze, you lose.” This is particularly true when it comes to employment opportunities. When an opportunity is there, you go for it, because it might not be there tomorrow.

If you feel that you understand an employer’s needs and have a solution to offer, by all means, make the sale during the Needs Analysis meeting. That being said, be very careful not to over-promise and under-deliver.

There are a number of factors to consider in matching the right client to the right job. It’s better to take some time to make sure you can confidently recommend someone than to rush a situation that is unlikely to be successful.

Observations & Adaptations for Refugee Employment

Refugee employment programs using the Consultative Selling approach say that the Needs Analysis is one the most helpful elements of the model, but have the following recommendations:

The whole process needs to move faster.

Consultative Selling is a strong model for building long-term relationships with employers but doesn’t necessarily emphasize the speed at which this happens. Newly arrived refugees must obtain employment very quickly, so finding ways to speed up the process is critical.

James LopezAfter working with the Consultative Selling model for a couple years, James Lopez, Job Developer at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains in Greeley, CO, recommends being more conversational and less scripted as way to speed up the process during the Needs Analysis.

It’s good to be organized and ask good questions, but you also want the conversation to feel natural, and even enjoyable, to that employer. It’s important to build rapport as quickly as possible.

James also recommends finding creative ways to break into local employer networks beyond your meetings with hiring decision makers. Attending networking groups, setting up speaking engagements and leveraging your personal network can result in personal connections that become “champions” for refugees within local companies.

Refugee employment staff in other parts of the country who have recently begun implementing the Consultative Selling model are coming to similar conclusions:

Valerie EvansValerie Evans, RSSP Coordinator at Catholic Charities of Onondaga County in Syracuse, NY shares the experience her team as they’ve begun working with this model:

“We’ve incorporated the Needs Analysis into our meetings, but we’ve found employers need a quicker process. We’ve found that many employers are not willing to spend a whole hour in a Needs Analysis meeting.

Valerie also says that employers have responded well to a condensed Needs Analysis meeting with focused questions that quickly identify needs, such as “What are the top 3 things you look for in employees?” or “What are the top 3 things that will get you fired?”

While the primary focus of the Needs Analysis is the employer, providing some education and context on refugees is helpful.

The Consultative Selling approach is a shift for many refugee employment programs, but there are some things that we’ve done for a long time that we should continue to do.

One of these long-time strategies is providing employers with a basic orientation to refugees either verbally or through a well-designed brochure. The Needs Analysis meeting is a good opportunity to do this.

Brochure-Photo

It may be strategic to share this information towards the end of the Needs Analysis meeting since some of the information you will share will be the selling points of working with refugees (e.g. legal status, retention rates, work ethic, etc.).

Perhaps you can use this information to transition to selling, whether you make the sale in the Needs Analysis meeting or at a later time.

Needs Analysis Tips

Here are a few more tips from James Lopez at LFSRM to keep in mind when conducting Needs Analysis meetings:

  • Focus on the “Three P’s”: Process, Policies, and Personal Relationship – Your success depends on the employer trusting you.
  • Use intelligent questions to keep the conversation on track and keep it focused on employer needs.
  • Avoid asking “why” questions – these can give the impression that you are criticizing and can make employers defensive.
  • End the conversation with action steps – come to an agreement with the employer about what you will do next and what the timeline will look like.
  • Remember that it often takes between 5-7 points of contact before an employer hires someone. Be prepared to have several conversations, and make sure that you are confident before presenting a solution to the employer. Don’t feel bad about asking more questions or getting clarification on things after the initial Needs Analysis appointment.
  • Remember to take a consultative approach: You’re not just selling employers on your clients, but you are also selling them on the supportive services that you can offer both before and after they hire your clients.

 We hope that this post has been helpful for you. Keep us posted as you experiment with Needs Analysis meetings and perfect your technique: information@higheradvantage.org.

*Many thanks to Allen Anderson of DTG-EMP, James Lopez at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains in Greeley, CO, and Valerie Evans at Catholic Charities of Onondaga County in Syracuse, NY. Their valuable insights made this post possible.

 

 

 

Employers Not Responding To Your Emails? Here’s a Tool That Will Help!

Guest Post by James Lopez

Email Black HoleEmail, for a Job Developer, is both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes it works like a charm. Other times it feels like a waste of time because no matter how many prospecting emails you send out, none ever return.

Fortunately, because of the digital age that we live in there are resources and tools out there to better improve your emails, resulting in higher response rates and better relationships with employers.

 

CRM Software

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are tools designed to help salespeople develop better customer relationships. There are many different types of CRM software but anything that can collect or track customer relationships is defined under this term.

CRM Systems can be used to:

  • Track when and how often a customer or prospect is interacting with messaging
  • Help create better marketing messages by identifying successful key phrases
  • Increase email response rates
  • Ensure that you are keeping in constant contact with customers or prospects
  • Help you use your time more efficiently

Using CRM Software for Job Development

CRMs offer a multitude of tracking and organizing strategies to make job development and outreach easier and more efficient.

CRMs allow you to see, in real time, the actions of potential employers and how they respond to your “cold” emails. Imagine after sending an email being able to see when a new employer clicks on your email to read it. Imagine being able to use that data to know what phrases are most effective in getting a response from a potential employer.

According to HubSpot, a top rated CRM company, “a recent study found that the average response rate of cold emails is 1.7%.”

With such limited time, it is important to identify tools that will help maximize your effectiveness and increase the chance that employers will read and respond to your emails.

Using CRM software to improve your email

Sidekick by HubSpot is a free CRM extension you can add to your email (Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, etc) that will track real time openings of emails and total views. Instead of blindly sending out an email, Sidekick will notify you if and when someone opens your email, the total number of views, and give you a contact card with a potential employer’s social media accounts and websites associated with their email.

sidekick_02-100612054-large.idge

Here are some ways that Sidekick will help you maximize your efficiency:

  • Write effective emails that people will actually open
  • Write more personalized emails that sound less like sales and more like a conversation starter
  • Keep in better contact with potential prospects
  • Help identify other potential employers via social media connections and professional groups
  • Create follow up requests immediately after you see a prospect open your email by sending another email

What I learned from using Sidekick

As a Job Developer, I am constantly sending out emails to potential employers. Before, I would send out long detailed emails that would explain who we were and what our program did. These emails would receive very low response rates and I had no idea what was turning people off to opening or reading my emails.

By using the Sidekick tool I started to track the open rates of my emails based on different subject lines, content, and action steps. What I found out was that employers prefer shorter emails (less than 200 words) that acknowledge the open position and set up specific days and times to meet as well as expectations of the meeting.

Additionally, I noticed that subject lines that require action like “Open Position at your Warehouse, Let’s Fill It ASAP together!” are much more effective in opening the conversation and getting potential employers to open your emails. Now, I have a 30% higher open rate and a 40% higher response rate that has led to a significant increase in my employer portfolio.

Check out the Sidekick tool here to see if it might be helpful in your Job Development efforts!

James LopezJames Lopez is a Job Developer at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains in Greeley, CO. James’ expertise includes helping refugees obtain employment in rural/suburban areas, integrating technology into Job Development work, and using the Consultative Selling approach to build long-term employer relationships. You can reach James at james.lopez@lfsrm.org.

Employment Volunteer Resources

A collection of approaches and resources from refugee employment volunteer and mentor programs around the country.

World Relief DuPage/Aurora, IL

Materials given to volunteers who mentor employment clients unable to attend regular job skills training class. It generally takes 5-6 one hour meetings to complete, and adaptations are made according to the English level and prior experience of the client. The portfolio contains some paperwork and tests that can provide additional practice for the client.

Job Skill Mentor Portfolio                             Job Skills Mentor Guidebook

Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego, CA

Resources to help volunteers, who are usually assigned to do interview practice with clients, help clients complete online applications, or do applications on behalf of clients with low English or computer skills. Both documents are provided to volunteers as part of initial training.  In addition, the training includes review of a Walmart application so they learn how to navigate employer websites and complete pre-employment assessments correctly.

Interview Questions and Answers*                 15 Toughest Interview Questions and Answers

*Includes the following: Passing Assessment Tests; Walmart Interview Questions; Hilton Hotels Interview Questions; Martha’s Go To Interview Questions; Walmart Cashier Interview Questions and Answers; 9 Popular Interview Questions and Answers

New American Pathways, Atlanta, GA

A couple of years ago, we created a binder called “Employment Client Waiting Services.” We conduct walk-ins once a week for clients to meet with Case Managers and Employment Specialists, and sometimes clients have to spend a while in the waiting room. When volunteers and interns are available on a walk-in day, they use the binder to find activities to take advantage of that time–there are sheets to establish basic workplace vocabulary, assess math skills, and determine the client’s employable skills to prepare for interviews. Since volunteers’ schedules don’t always match up with the times we are most in need of their assistance, it’s good to have a packet put together so they can be working on something important even while staff members are otherwise occupied.

Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) New Haven, CT

A few documents used in IRIS’ Employment Mentor Program

Goals and Strategies Checklist      Program Rules of Engagement        Client Agreement (English)

African Community Center, Denver, CO

Documents from ACC’s employment volunteeer training program

Employment Application Guide for Refugees          SES Volunteer Guide

Resource for Supervisors and Managers

what about us infoDownload a tip sheet summarizing advice from 120 refugee employment professionals about Professional Development, Time Management and the support  they hope to get from their supervisors.