3 Ways to Empower Highly Skilled Clients

Refugee employment staff are deeply committed to the work that they do and work hard to empower all clients. Finding ways to empower clients of different skill levels takes creativity and intentionality.

Empowering highly skilled refugees is a unique challenge as it requires balancing immediate needs with long-term aspirations. Creating a standard approach to helping clients develop both short-term and long-term goals will help them have realistic expectations and a sense of optimism for their career path!

Here are 3 best practices for empowering highly skilled clients as you help them work towards their career goals:

1.) Build volunteer/internship opportunities into the Job Readiness experience

Where can you provide opportunities for highly skilled clients to use their skills during the job search process? Consider providing volunteer/internship opportunities for these clients at your agency or at other local organizations or employers.

One idea is to have highly skilled clients mentor or assist in teaching ESL to lower skilled clients. Providing volunteer/internship experiences will be good for clients’ morale and will look good on a résumé!

2.) Take a collaborative approach 

Collaborate with highly skilled clients on a job search strategy that takes into account both their short term needs and long term goals. Encourage highly skilled clients to participate in their job search by assigning them tasks they can complete themselves to move their job search forward.

Wherever possible, provide choices that allow the client to guide the process. Providing choices for our clients can be empowering, as explained in this video interview with Carrie Thiele, Integration Programs Manager at ECDC/African Community Center in Denver, CO.

3.) Develop a long-term career plan

Be sure to let highly skilled clients know that after they attain the first step of basic self-sufficiency you really want to see them take the next step to move towards their career goals.  Remind them that their first job is not their last job, but rather just the first step to achieve economic security.

Set an appointment for 6 months after they begin their first job in which you will discuss appropriate next steps to pursue, whether that be credential evaluation, a job upgrade or a referral to another training or employment program.

Consider connecting highly skilled clients to a volunteer career mentor who can support them through the process of pursuing their career goals (Check out this guide from LIRS on setting up an employment mentoring program).

We are looking for stories from the field about agencies that have provided volunteer or internship opportunities for clients or have implemented other creative strategies. Share your story by sending us an email at information@higheradvantage.org.

Last Minute Webinar Announcement!

Tomorrow, Thursday, June 22, from 2:00 – 3:15 PM, WES Global Talent Bridge will be hosting a webinar entitled “Exploring Reskilling Opportunities for Immigrant Professionals focused on helping immigrants and refugees with professional backgrounds re-enter professional-level jobs.

In this webinar presenters Allie Levinsky from Upwardly Global and Jamie McDermott from the Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare will discuss best practices for providing career guidance to highly skilled immigrants and refugees as well as current reskilling initiatives.

To register for this webinar click here.

Alternative Pathways for Highly Skilled Refugees

Source: https://www.uaf.nl/english

Source: https://www.uaf.nl/english

While many professional fields in the U.S. require licensure, refugees from professional backgrounds who are not immediately able to pursue these credentials don’t necessarily need to be stuck in low-level jobs.

A recent post by our friends at WES Global Talent Bridge shares some fantastic alternative career pathways that highly skilled refugees (and those who work with them) may want to explore, whether they are working towards licensure or just looking for work that is related to their skills.

Here’s a few options they recommend:

  • Accountants can analyze budgets and costs for institutions without a certified public accountant (CPA) license.
  • Engineers or architects who are not lisenced can still work in technical, advisory, and management positions related to engineering projects.
  • Healthcare Professionals have many options including administration, community health, and research. In addition short-term training programs such as CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) or Phlebotomist certification can be a good entry point.
  • Lawyers can work as paralegals, and may be able to advise on foreign law as a foreign legal consultant (FLC)
  • Social workers and psychologists can find work as community workers in non-profits and schools.
  • Teachers can sometimes work as substitutes, or even full-time teachers at private and charter schools. Many states also offer alternate routes to certification or licensure (e.g. New York City Teaching Fellows, Teach for America, etc.)

While newly arrived refugees will likely need assistance identifying and accessing the alternative pathways, the opportunities are there. Some refugee employment programs around the country are hiring dedicated staff or mobilizing volunteers that specialize in identifying opportunities and facilitating networking and career mentorship for highly skilled refugees. This is emerging as a best practice in serving this unique subset of newly arrived refugees.

To read the WES Global Talent Bridge article in its entirety, click here!

Coursera for Refugees: Here NOW

courseraCoursera and the Department of State have partnered to offer Coursera for Refugees as part of a larger White House private sector engagement initiative.

Read more in a previous Higher post or in a recent article in U.S. News if you aren’t already excited about the opportunity this presents for refugees.

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 5.10.21 PMHere is a link to the landing page for Coursera for Refugees.

At a glance – and in the screen shot from the portal on the right – you will see how to sign up and the benefits of doing so. There is a separate link to sign up for the Global Translator Community for volunteer interpreters to help translate Coursera courses into refugee languages.

Where to Start?

Higher strongly recommends that you first open the application, which includes additional information you’ll need in order to consider how your agency will proceed.  Here are three important points we learned by reviewing the application.

1. There are minimum client requirements for eligibility.  Organizations with fewer than 50 refugees with middle- to high-skills and the ability to complete courses in English will not be eligible for financial aid for organizations.  It might make sense to explore with other agencies in your community or at the national resettlement agency level.  You could also consider promoting individual financial aid for qualified refugees instead.

2. Technology access is required.  Internet connectivity and IT resources are required to participate and to afford meaningful access. That doesn’t mean that you have to have a computer lab to participate.  You might partner with a library, Goodwill computer lab or other community resource.  Refugees might have their own technology and connectivity, too.  Coursera courses are mobile optimized.

3. After 12 months, there may be costs to continue.  There is a modest reporting commitment and the financial aid expires after 12  months.  This means it’s important to develop a plan before you apply, so you make the best use of the 12 month access period.

Get in touch at information@higheradvantage.org if you are already making plans or have an organizational financial aid package already. We really want to hear how this looks on the ground.

Peer Conclusions from the White House

We’ll all continue to build on the energy and resources coming out of the White House National Skills and Credential Institute on June 29.  Read how four refugee and immigrant integration leaders who attended plan to build on their number one takeaway from the event.

If you missed Higher’s previous blog posts about the Institute, click these links to learn about strong refugee resettlement representation, three immediate opportunities and four best practices for serving highly skilled new arrivals while helping them find a starter job.

stclara pic

Santa Clara County delegation

“The Santa Clara County Refugee & Immigrant Forum works to improve collaborations with public, private, and nonprofit service providers, to ensure that refugees and immigrants maximize the use of their skills, achieve their professional career goals, and become productive members of society.  Our next step is to present recommendations, obtain feedback from the forum, and engage community partners and clients”

Ellie Derakhshesh-Clelland
Sr. Director of Social Services
Pars Equality Center

 

NSCI panoramic

Session on Occupational Licensing

“My number one takeaway from the White House National Skills & Credential Institute is that there are a lot of states/organizations doing some great work in the area of skilled immigrant workforce development.  I’d like to learn more about their programs/initiatives as our time to hear from the other states was limited.  So, I plan to reach out to them to try to foster continuing conversations about the topic.  I’m hoping to learn some other program best practices.”

Karen Phillippi
Deputy Director
stl delegation

St. Louis delegation (Not pictured: Blake Hamilton, International Institute, St. Louis)

“There is already considerable depth of knowledge and experience regarding immigrant brain waste, as well as a number of programs which are doing excellent work to alleviate it.  We want to make more connections outside our region to learn from the work of others and then modify to meet the needs of our local immigrants who would benefit from career path services.”

Anna E. Crosslin
President & CEO
Eisenhower Executive Office Building

Session on Career Pathways

“I think my biggest take away was that we all (JFS and the rest of the consortium) need to be doing even more to engage employers. I don’t think that most of us have the know how at this point. We are all such client facing organizations – and employers are an entirely different language that we need to learn to speak.”  
Rebecca Craig
Community Engagement Coordinator