Preparing Refugees for the Workforce
The IRC in Dallas employment department plays a vital role in helping newly arrived refugees become self-sufficient. However, with the economic downturn, it has been more difficult to find work for refugees, particularly those with limited English skills. The employment staff recognized that although many clients were enrolled in general ESL classes, they were still unable to fill out a job application or answer specific interview questions.
To address these issues, Employment Coordinator Susie Piper began a pilot class in September of last year. The class started with a small group of six clients. They were given three weeks of intensive job related ESL and, at the end of the class, each was successfully placed in a job at a local hotel. Inspired by the positive results, the employment department launched the Job Readiness ESL Program which trains clients in the vocational English they need to secure employment quickly.
In November, the IRC in Dallas received funding from ACE USA, Inc. to expand the classes and hire AmeriCorps VISTA member Lindsey Morgan to run the Job Readiness ESL Program. With the ACE funding, IRC is now able to offer two daily classes for Dallas clients, both a basic and intermediate level class for employable adults. Each class consists of approximately 12 students that meet at the IRC office every weekday morning.
The program is divided into three components. The first focuses on recognizing the English alphabet, common words and the spelling of their name and other personal information. The second focuses on filling out job applications and teaches common job related phrases that can be used during a job interview. Once a client has secured a job interview, the third component focuses on vocabulary and phrases specific to that job.
Ms. Piper has been thrilled with the results of the class so far, “The clients enjoy these classes and it is wonderful for us to watch them gain confidence and English ability.”