Employment Services for Refugees: Leveraging Mainstream U.S. Systems and Funding
Essey Workie, Senior Policy Analyst, Migration Policy Institute
Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, Senior Fellow, National Skills Coalition
Sarah Peterson, Chief, Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance, and Washington State Refugee Coordinator, Economic Services Administration, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services
Karen Phillippi, Director, New American Integration, Office of Global Michigan, Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity
A key goal of the U.S. refugee resettlement program is to help refugees rapidly find employment. While refugees do work at high rates, and entry-level jobs are often available in today’s tight labor market, service providers sometimes struggle to help refugees into jobs that provide long-term career pathways and upward mobility.
Such challenges are compounded by the pressures and challenges of the current environment around refugee resettlement, in a context of greatly reduced refugee arrivals, strains on local resettlement organizations—many of which have ended or reduced operations—and uncertainty about which states and counties will be resettling refugees in the years ahead. Under these circumstances, two activities can be key parts of a broader strategy for sustaining and improving employment services for refugees: Partnerships with experts in workforce development strategies, and access to federal workforce development funding.
Migration Policy Institute (MPI) researchers and other experts on this webinar explore what these approaches can look like in practice. Speakers discuss the possibilities for collaboration between refugee resettlement and mainstream workforce services, and funding streams such as Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs, SNAP Employment and Training funds, Pell grants, and more to help refugees find better jobs. State leaders in Michigan and Washington State also share how they have leveraged such funding to support their refugee employment services.