FREE ESL, GED and Vocational Training in More than 100 Career Fields

Job Corps LogoIf this sounds too good to be true, maybe you haven’t yet discovered Job Corps.  Back in the day, it had a reputation as reform school for juvenile delinquents and high school drop-outs.  That’s outdated information.

Job Corps is a Department of Labor program with a national network of 125 campuses offering career development services to at-risk youth, ages 16 to 24.  A high percentage of our clients fall into this age bracket.  The Bureau of Refugees, Population and Migration (BPRM) estimates that approximately 25% of Congolese arrivals will be in this age range.

Most of our clients will qualify based on income eligibility.  Many crave education and need a range of skills to get an entry level job with career potential.  Job Corps is an unmatched opportunity.

Many locations offer a campus setting where housing, meals, spending money and a range of extra-curricular activities are provided at no cost.  Without the pressure of having to earn enough money to pay rent, clients can focus full time on perfecting their English, getting a GED and earning a certificate in one or more skilled trades.  It’s a great way to learn social skills and meet other young people from different backgrounds, as well.

How to Proceed? 

Identify Job Corps locations in your area here.  The recruiting website has all of the basic information you need to get started, including a contact form that will get a rapid response from a recruiting office in your area.  Other resources include YouTube and Facebook pages.  Much of the recruiting information is available in Spanish.

Higher recommends developing a relationship with the recruiting office and touring the facilities before beginning to publicize the opportunity with clients.  When you have applications, contacts and comprehensive knowledge of the steps involved, you can develop a plan to move forward.  As you learn more about the different career training offered, you’ll be able to screen clients more effectively and help them think about which option might be the best fit for them.

Consider beginning with a small initial group with intermediate English language skills or who share a common language and culture.  This will make it easier to provide initial interpretation and will build in an initial comfort level for the clients, their families and community.  The word will spread and you will soon be fielding a high volume of interest.  It helps to be prepared in advance so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

What’s the Catch?

There are a few issues that require a bit of strategic thinking.  These are definitely manageable and are far outweighed by the benefits.  The enrollment process can take some time.  Some traditional families might need to be provided with information so they can feel comfortable with the decision.  For in-demand career tracks, there can be a several-month wait to enter the program.

Stay Tuned for Additional Help from Higher

Higher is developing a webinar focused on Job Corps.  Watch our blog and website for an announcement early next year.  If you have experience helping clients access this great opportunity, please get in touch as we gather success stories and expertise from within the refugee employment network.

 

 

Free Photographs to Enhance Employer Communication and Outreach

Photographs are important when you’re putting together employer marketing brochures, success stories, social media posts or other types of communication.

Keep that in mind when you visit employers and clients at their workplaces.  It’s much easier to collect photos in the moment than scrambling at the last minute.  For digital images, a smart phone delivers great quality and can also work for print media if you have a steady hand.

PicMonkey Collage

Remember to ask permission (in advance, if possible).  Be sensitive to cultural norms around photography.  Follow any photo release policy your agency might have.

Higher has found a couple of great free resources for generating images for all kinds of communication purposes and wanted to share them with you.

You have definitely seen examples of the results of using both of these sites – and our own photographs – in Higher social media communications.  The image that accompanies this post is a picmonkey.com collage of free images we’ve created or found on the sites listed in the link.

 

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The Best Resource for Comprehensive Job Development Skills

Job Development Essentials CoverMany social media posts use superlatives that often end up being more hype than substance.  In this case, “best” is a deliberate and valid word choice.  Job Development Essentials:  a guide for job developers is a comprehensive manual for all of the techniques and strategies you need to master.  It really captures the diversity and duality of our roles:

“Whatever the job title – job developer, employment specialist or account exec. – the task of job development involves linking employers with job seekers and job seekers with employers.  Regardless of what they’re called…, all have the same fundamental task:  to find jobs for people who seek them and, in many cases, to help ensure that job seekers remain in the workforce…Certain job developers have the luxury of devoting all of their time to these duties; others juggle a variety of responsibilities.  Acting as the bridge between these two worlds – those of employers and job seekers – is a daunting role…Balancing these competing demands is the art of job development.”

Download this great publication, and companion facilitators guide and trainee workbook here.

Advice from a Career in Workforce Development

Harry Crawford retires as Employment Program Manager at Caritas of Austin today.  In his honor, we are reposting this summary of two pieces of his advice.  Harry Crawford

” I wanted to introduce you to Harry Crawford.  he’s the Employment Program Manager at Caritas of Austin – my boss.  He has more than 25 years of experience in workforce development. Lots of times in meetings with outside agencies, I  have to laugh because everyone ends up taking notes while Harry explains something we all need to understand.  Two pieces of his wisdom are counter-intuitive, but they always guide us through difficult aspects of working with clients, so I wanted to share them with you.

Some Clients Have to Hit the Wall: Sometimes, no mater what you do, clients have a hard time reconciling themselves to taking the first available, entry level job.  Sometimes we call it a survival or starter job.  When we’re feeling stress and worry about their family’s financial stability, Harry reminds us that some clients have to hit the wall before they can internalize the need to start in a job that they may feel is beneath them.  When they run out of options and money, they are forced to accept the realities of US work culture and that’s the best thing for them in the long term.

Finding a Job is a Numbers Game: We emphasize the importance of taking responsibility for their own success from our initial client intakes throughout all of our workshops and one-on-one coaching.  We try not to put more effort into a job search than the clients are giving themselves.  A lot of them get really frustrated by applying for lots of jobs and never even getting a response.  It builds their skills and, eventually, if they apply enough places, someone will call and they’ll find a job. ”

 

Stressed about ObamaCare (ACA)?

Piggy bank, dollar and stethoscopeWe’ve heard a lot of you express anxiety about what the Affordable Coverage Act (ACA), also known as ObamaCare, will mean for refugees and how to adjust the information and services you offer accordingly.

Addressing family wellness is a huge part of what case managers do for our clients.  Employment professionals need to be aware of those issues and how to address them as barriers to employment.  Most clients no longer receive intensive post-arrival case management by the time their eight month Medicaid eligibility expires and they are eligible for employer-provided health insurance benefits.

No matter how much you explain and help clients navigate our complex system, it remains bewildering.  Even if ACA offers improved coverage for our clients, learning about it and then helping refugees understand and access those benefits seems overwhelming.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and technical assistance provider RefugeeHealth Technical Assistance Center (RHTAC) have already thought about that.  Resources – including translated materials in several refugee languages – are already available to help you understand and navigate the new system, with more to come.  These great resources will help ease the stress now. We’ll point you to additional resources and provide more information as it becomes available.

Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) provides an overview of ACA, what it means for refugees and links to other related sites.  They also provide a downloadable Fact Sheet that will be useful when advocating for healthcare access rights (i.e. interpretation) with medical service providers or other agencies.

RefugeeHealth Technical Assistance Center (RHTAC) provides a straightforward explanation of ACA and its implications for refugee health care access.  At this site, you can also find downloadable Fact Sheets translated into Arabic, Burmese and Nepali.

Health Insurance Marketplace , the official government site to access ACA benefits, packs alot of information into their site.  The page I found most helpful offers resources in several languages, including Spanish, Arabic, Vietnamese and Russian. A brief downloadable statement of the right to get information about ACA in your native language includes the 1-800 number to call for language access.  The statement is translated into several languages, including Amharic, Arabic, French, Hindi and Persian.

How to Use Video for Interview Practice

Fancy Camera graphic for video mock interviewDon’t let fancy, expensive technology  scare you off.  You can use your smart  phone or desk top camera or your daughter’s pink princess flip cam to record  questions for a simple mock interview.  The How-to is outlined in this great piece from The Guardian Online.

Pre-recording interview questions simulates the feeling of responding in real time, which can help client practice feel more real.  We repeat interview questions multiple times for every client.  Using this approach can save time and help you be more than one place at once.  I can think of several ways to use this approach to help refugee clients:

  • I’m often surprised at how soon many clients are able to get a smart phone. You could record a few questions onto their phone and show them how to play them back for practice at home. They might even be able to record their final responses and bring them back in to your next appointment so you could provide feedback.

 

  • Volunteers could use prerecorded questions from you (loaded on to a USB memory stick) to help client practice exactly the questions you want them to work on together.

 

  • You could use this approach in Job Readiness classes using someone other than the instructor as the “interviewer”. This could also help clients practice comprehension with multiple speakers of English.

How to Use FREE Online Training and Education Resources

ToMortar Boardday, I found a great list of 20 free on-line educational resources through Higher’s FlipBoard magazine that includes some I’ve heard of and others that are new to me.   I wish I had time to investigate each one to evaluate the quality – which varies widely in on-line education and training offerings.  I can still think of several ways we could use these in our work with clients.

Addressing Language Skills:  If a client has already studies a subject in their native language, a basic course could help them learn vocabulary and terminology in English or help them understand what emphasis or application might be different in the US context.  At least one of the sites (Alison.com) offers courses in Arabic language.  The MIT site offers courses translated into Spanish, Persian and several other languages.  There are likely other non-English language resources available from among the list.

Helping Clients Learn Basic (and more Advanced) Workplace Skills:  A couple of the sites offer courses on basic workplace skills and topics like project management, how to find a mentor, health and safety requirements and an overview of the manufacturing process.  These are likely not covered in job readiness class, but many clients could benefit from learning more about them.

Access basic US-style academic courses:  It can be frustrating for clients who yearn to attend college or University, but aren’t quite ready.  Many times, clients sign-up for on-line degrees and don’t understand the financial and time commitment or what it takes to succeed in on-line learning.  Helping clients identify relevant courses could satisfy their desire to learn while working full-time and help them understand the skills they need to succeed in any academic environment.  Some of the sites include standardized test preparation materials, as well.

Figuring out Technical Career Paths:  So many clients say they “know about computers”, but don’t know how those skills are segmented and applied in the job market.  Often, I struggled to figure out career paths and industry leads for technical skills that were completely unfamiliar to me.  With a little research, it seems like you could improve your understanding of these sectors and identify resources for clients to do so.

It would be great to hear from you about which sites you found useful and how you used them.  We’re all busy, but maybe if you can provide the list to clients, they can tell you what was useful for them.

And, stay tuned to begin using Higher’s new on-line training courses in the next month or so.  Our initial topics include  How to Communicate with Employers (for employment professionals) and Workplace Culture (for clients).  If you want to get involved in field testing to be among the first to use this great new resource designed just for us, get in touch at info@higheradvantage.org.

 

Resources from DOL!

We just added some Department of Labor fact sheets to the Resources section of our site. Check them out to learn more about how American Job Centers and the Workforce Investment System can help support refugee workers in your community.

FREE RESOURCE! Pre-Employment Training

Higher’s July webinar on training design and delivery strategies received rave reviews from all participants with much interest in sharing existing resources geared to pre-employment classes that include multiple English levels.  One of the webinar’s guest presenters, Brittani Mcleod of Catholic Community Services of Utah, agreed to share her tested curriculum outline.  You can download the outline here.  This is a great starting point for any refugee employment service providers who are looking to create a pre-employment training that addresses the needs of job seekers with varying levels of English.  If you would like to receive the full curriculum which includes activities, vocabulary lists and picture cards, contact us.

Picture Card Example from CCS Utah Pre-Employment Curriculum

What strategies or tools are you finding helpful when preparing refugees for employment?  Let us know in the comment section.  We would be happy to feature your program on our website too!