IRC Prepares Refugees for Job Market
While finding a job in Tucson is difficult, finding a job as an incoming refugee is a true challenge. Imagine entering a market in which you have no previous experience, you struggle to speak or even understand the language, and your family is depending on you to be successful. The Job Readiness Training (JRT) classes held at the IRC in Tucson provide an incredible resource for refugees who struggle with these very obstacles.
Taught by Employment and Economic Development volunteers, JRT classes offer vocational training for refugee adults through hands-on learning experiences such as relay races, ”grocery bingo” and customer roll play. A relay race gets the class of 25 to their feet as they search amongst a table full of clothing for the “black, long-sleeved sweater” or “red, short-sleeved t-shirt,” and they price each item according to a list provided by the instructor. Through these activities, students gain a very well rounded practice of color recognition, sorting clothing, as well as dealing with American money - skills that would be difficult to obtain through a traditional lecture format.
Instructors focus the revolving curriculum on retail training, hospitality and food service; concentrating their efforts in vocabulary recognition as well as important conceptual information needed to work in these industries. Vocabulary practice is one of the most important aspects of these classes as most of the students speak little to no English.
The goal of Job Readiness Training is to provide refugees with the skills needed to acquire and sustain an entry level job. One example of the many success stories shared by the job preparation team highlighted the determination of two brothers: Jul and Tashi*. Together, they regularly attended the weekly JRT classes. After six classes, Jul was hired by a janitorial service, and a few weeks later his wife also found a job in a hotel. Tashi became increasingly frustrated, but continued to attend class in the hopes that he too would be working soon. No more than a few months passed before his brother’s company had another job opening. Tashi was hired by the company after receiving a very special recommendation as a result of his brother’s stellar job performance.
A refugee’s journey from day one in the United States to landing their first American job is a long and arduous road; but with the help of IRC’s Job Readiness Training and dedicated volunteers, refugees are provided with the tools they need to succeed in the workplace.
Story written by Hannah Rettler, IRC Tucson Development Intern
Job Readiness Training volunteers are needed:
If you are interested in helping refugees build skills to succeed in the workplace, contact Volunteer & Internship Coordinator, Andrew Jenkins at VolunteerTucson@theIRC.org.
*Names have been changed to protect the safety of our clients