Employment and Career Development
The IRC Employment and Career Development (ECD) program helps refugees prepare for and obtain entry level employment and then gain the skills, licenses, and certifications needed to transition into higher-paying careers. Through classroom training, intensive one-on-one assistance, referrals to other IRC services and partner organizations, and access to financing, the ECD program directly addresses participants’ most significant barriers to earning a sustainable wage.
Refugee Challenges to Employment and Career Advancement
Refugees struggle to gain employment and access education due to the following distinct barriers:
• English deficiency
• Access to transportation
• Lack of skills or training
• Lack of a fundamental understanding of educational and workplace systems in the U.S.;
• Difficulty in navigating education bureaucrac; and
• Insufficient financial resources to pay for further education and work related expenses such as appropriate clothing.
The ECD program was designed to directly addressing these barriers through six distinct programs:
1. Early Employment
3. Job Training and Computer Lab (JTAL)
4. Career Development
One of the core services of the ECD program is early employment for refugees. The overarching goal is to assist newly arrived refugees in securing entry level employment as soon as possible after their arrival in the US. Services include classroom training, intensive one on one job searching assistance including resume creation, application assistance and practice interviews, accompanied job searches, transportation to interviews and access to job leads and employers.
The classroom trainings include a Job Readiness Training and New Hire Workshop. The Job Readiness Training class prepares refugees to look for, apply to, and, interview for jobs as well as teach the culture of the American workplace. The second classroom training that is offered to early employment clients is a New Hire Workshop, this class is offered to clients who obtain employment and teaches them how to fill out new hire paperwork, employee rights in the workplace and how to keep a good work history.
IRC staff work to form relationships with local employers to match refugee job seekers with job openings. If you are interested in diversifying your candidate pool and helping a refugee get their first job in America please see our employer page: http://www.rescue.org/us-program/us-san-diego-ca/employer-services.
For more information, contact Thuba.Nguyen@Rescue.org.
Photo: Refugee client at work at Hilton San Diego Resort by Genevieve Caston/The IRC
The IRC Transportation Program was launched in response to a large number of clients citing transportation as their number one barrier to employment. Staff provide classroom trainings on using public transportation, bicycle safety and car buying, accompanied bus trips are offered for experiential learning and one on one route planning assistance and car buying assistance are offered along with access to an auto loan fund.
The transportation program offers two classroom trainings: Public Transit Training and Auto Purchase Training. The Public Transit Training is designed to encourage newly arrived refugees to use public transit for job search activities and the Auto Purchase Training educates clients on the best approach to buy a car. The program also provides one-on-one technical assistance for route planning and car buying. Accompanied educational bus trips are a very popular and help clients understand how to navigate San Diego’s complicated transit system independently.
The transportation program started a bicycle project to provide clients with bicycles to use in tandem with public transit or as an alternative to public transit. Bicycles are donated to the IRC and then distributed to clients. Clients interested in receiving bicycles are required to attend a 1-hour classroom-based safety training and 1-hour road safety course presented by members of the San Diego Bicycle Coalition. If you are interested in donating a bicycle to the IRC please contact Hong.Tran@Rescue.org.
Photo: Refugee client learning to take the trolley. Hong Tran/The IRC
JOB TRAINING AND APPLICATION LAB (JTAL)
The IRC hosts two Job Training and Application Labs (JTAL), one in City heights and the other in El Cajon. JTAL has open lab hours for clients to use computers and internet access for self guided job search. In addition, clients can schedule a one on one job search appointment with an employment volunteer to help with resume prep, online applications and cover letters.
Classroom trainings are offered in conjunction with JTAL and include a Computer Basics class and an Online Job Search class. The first class covers basics of using a computer for non English speakers, it covers the components of a computer, typing and how to use MS Word. Teh second class covers how to use employment websites for job searching, complete online applications, manage online presence and master the online personality questionnaire. If you are interested in donating computers or computer equipment, please contact Julia.Shu@Rescue.org.
Photo: Students using JTAL, photo by Caryn Burkholder/The IRC
The primary component of Career Development is one-on-one technical assistance to help clients navigate their career path. The Career Development program offers a variety of trainings to clients to inform them of different aspects of career development. The core training is the Career Development Orientation that introduces clients to the educational system in the U.S. and gives an overview of schooling options including GED, community college, vocational trainings and recertification. The Career Development program also offers a Financial Aid presentation twice a year to coincide with deadlines for filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This workshop gives an overview of federal and non-federal financial aid options and the application procedures.
In addition, the program offers Employer Career Panels and Career Society meetings which provides opportunities for networking and leadership, techniques for job hunting, tips for career development, and advice regarding education/certifications. The Career Development Program offers two options for clients to overcome financial barriers to access training or recertification. The program offers access to loans of up to $5,000 through the Vocational Education Loan Fund and supports clients in completing the FAFSA.
For more information, please contact Carla.Decina@Rescue.org.
Photo: IRC Career Development client receiving her Masters degree by Thuba Nguyen/The IRC
The San Diego Workforce Initiative Toward Careers in Healthcare (SWITCH) provides services to clients interested in pursuing a career in healthcare. The program provides a preparatory healthcare VESL class, a 60 hour work readiness training class, one on one assistance with school selection and employment placement assistance. The program provides Individual Training Account (ITA) funds of up to $7,000 to pay for approved healthcare trainings and supportive service money to help pay for transportation, uniform and books.
Click here to read about Shams, a SWITCH success story.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, please contact Sophie.Cheetham@Rescue.org for more information.
The Connect2Work program is an employment and educational program specifically for youth between 17-21 years of age. The program is designed to meet the individual needs of youth and include educational services, work readiness training, work experience placement and youth development activities. All youth that participate in the program can access a 40 week paid work experience, scholarships to help pay for post secondary education, incentive payments for completion of milestones and supportive services throughout to pay for transportation and work related expenses. If you know of a youth who may be interested in this program and lives in central San Diego please refer them to Caryn.Burkholder@Rescue.org.
If you are an employer interested in working with any of our job seeking candidates from entry level to skilled positions, if you would like to offer your expertise for one of our events and panels or if you are interested in acting as a work experience site for youth please click here to visit our employer services page.
SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR FUNDERS:
Office of Refugee Resettlement
San Diego Workforce Partnership
JP Morgan Chase