Patrick, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, is at a turning point in his career in his new home in Atlanta. Before arriving in the U.S. through the refugee resettlement program in January 2019, he worked in construction in Uganda. Now, after completing the IRC in Atlanta’s intensive Manufacturing Works training program, Patrick is already in line for higher-paying jobs as a skilled welder.
Participants in the IRC’s four-week Manufacturing Works training program graduate with improved linguistic skills, better tools for managing their day-to-day finances and a greater sense of confidence in both the workplace and the expanded culture of their new community. This intensive program provides job skills training and cultural immersion through contextualized English language classes. Clients also learn essential computer skills and gain financial grounding through workshops on budgeting, banking, credit cards and money management. In addition, participants are given critical support in defining their career goals, developing resumes, preparing for job interviews and expanding their networks.
Patrick enrolled in the Manufacturing Works program shortly after arriving in Atlanta and advanced quickly through his studies. The week after graduation, Patrick was offered a welding job at Shintone, a heavy equipment manufacturing company in Atlanta. The job came with great benefits and free transportation. “I like my job because it doesn’t make me tired and it has full medical coverage and paid days off vacation time,” Patrick said. He stated that he was especially glad he completed Manufacturing Works because it prepared him for the tests and interviews at his new company.
19 IRC clients have completed the program so far. Of those graduates, 13 are now working in manufacturing jobs at places like Shintone (as welders), Silver Line Building Products (as window manufacturers), and Masonite (as door manufacturers). The program is led by the IRC in Atlanta’s Career Development Coordinator, Lauren Bowden, and Workforce Training AmeriCorps Associate, Robyn Lau. “I’m very proud that our clients have been able to propel their English-speaking skills so quickly,” said Lauren. “The real benefit is that we’ve been able to get people into great jobs and excellent focused training programs faster than ever.”
Ushindi is another Congolese refugee who recently completed the Manufacturing Works program at the IRC in Atlanta. As a result of this preparation, Ushindi is now enrolled in advanced manufacturing training as a forklift driver, a skill that will put him in an excellent position to advance his career with his employer, Home Goods Warehouse.
Linguistic skills are measured for all clients at both the beginning and end of the training program. In most cases, progress in both their oral and written English language skills has exceeded all expectations. And this rapid linguistic progress has meant a faster-than-normal job placement for most clients. “The best part about the linguistic skills training,” said Robyn, “is that it helps prepare participants for the real world they’ll be facing every day in the workplace. They learn the terminology they will need in order to succeed in their jobs.”
The IRC in Atlanta has conducted three Manufacturing Works cohorts so far. Each cohort consisted of about 10 participants who participated in five-hour classes held each day over a four-week long term. IRC clients who have recently arrived in the U.S. are generally the most in need of ESL classes and employment services and are the primary target group for this program. These individuals are reaping the rewards of both their hard work and the focused training they received through Manufacturing Works.
The Manufacturing Works training program is made possible by the generous support of the Arconic Foundation.
To learn more about the work of the IRC in Atlanta and for information on how you can get involved with the IRC as a donor or volunteer, please contact Development Manager, Kalie Lasiter, at Kalie.Lasiter [at] Rescue.org or 678-636-8941.