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Migration Policy Institute Podcasts

MPI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank dedicated to the study of the movement of people worldwide.

Employment Services for Refugees: Leveraging Mainstream U.S. Systems and Funding

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.

On this webinar MPI's Essey Workie is joined by Amanda Bergson-Shilcock from the National Skills Coalition, Washington State Refugee Coordinator Sarah Peterson, and Karen Phillippi, Director of New American Integration in the Office of Global Michigan for a discussion on what these approaches can look like in practice. They explore 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.

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