Local employer provides specialized training to foster success in refugee employee
When refugees arrive in the U.S., most search for entry-level jobs that don’t require specialized training or experience. Many have prior work experience and skills, but they find it difficult initially to get specialized jobs because of language and certification barriers. Sometimes, though, an employer is willing to work with a refugee applicant to bridge the gap between a refugee’s experience and the requirements of a job. Game Gear, formerly known as Osborn Specialty Sewing, is just such an employer. Based in Salt Lake City and one of the few remaining U.S. based textile producers, Game Gear is always looking for experienced industrial sewers to work in its sports apparel and team uniforms operation.
Sui, a refugee from Burma that arrived in Utah in November with her husband and two sons, began looking for a job shortly after arrival. In her country she was self-employed making shirts and blouses on her own sewing machine. When her employment counselor, Nolan La Barge, heard that Game Gear was hiring, he contacted them to schedule a sewing test. Even though she had not worked on an industrial sewing machine before, the sewing manager at Game Gear could see by the way that she handled the fabric and was able to quickly figure out the machine that she was a good candidate for the job. They had hired refugees before and were willing to offer her this opportunity.
Fortunately, through the On-the-Job Training program (OJT) offered through the Utah Department of Workforce Services, Game Gear was able to offer Sui the additional training support that she would need to get fully up to speed. The OJT program reimburses an employer for up to 50% of a new employee’s wage during the training period, which can last up to six months. A willing employer and some funds to offset the training costs through OJT were just what Sui needed to obtain a more skilled position where she could use her nine years of previous sewing experience to help support her family. She is very pleased to be working at Game Gear and they are also happy to have her as part of their team.
Any employer interested in hiring refugees or participating in the OJT program can contact Nolan La Barge, Employment Specialist, at Nolan.LaBarge@Rescue.org for more information.