Employment

A resettled refugee standing in front of a medical transport truck. IRC/ASmith

Achieving self-sufficiency is critical for the success of refugees in the United States. As such, all adult refugees (18-64) who are able to work should make finding employment a priority. As refugees start to navigate employment in the United States, it is important to be mindful of the factors that can contribute to their success. Refugees come from a wide range of countries, bringing with them different cultural norms and expectations, as well as varying levels of prior work experience, education, and language ability. These activities teach refugees key information about employment in the United States and address key messages in the Employment Objectives & Indicators.

Activity Bank

Employment in the U.S. using COREnav Resources

This activity is ideal for teaching the basics of education in the U.S., specifically for participants with children. Use in-person or virtually.

  1. Ask participants: What was employment like in your country/ies of origin and/or protection? How did you find employment?
  2. Ask participants: What questions do you have about employment in the U.S.? Record responses.
  3. Share the Employment in the U.S. fact sheet or play the podcast or video (available in multiple languages). Use the Employment in the U.S. Guided Worksheet to guide participants in learning about: finding a job, work culture in the U.S., and employment rights and responsibilities. The worksheet includes multiple activities, including scenarios.
  4. Check that participants’ questions from the start of the activity have been answered. If it is not possible to answer all questions, communicate a plan for follow-up.

  • Transform scenarios into role-plays.
  • Provide the Employment in the U.S. fact sheet, podcast, or video ahead of the CO session.
  • If using the video or podcast, the fact sheet can serve as a transcript for the interpreter.
  • If using the video or podcast, consider pausing at different sections for interpretation, and also to conduct additional knowledge checks or answer questions.

Employment Spectrum Activity

This activity is ideal for exploring perceptions around gender roles and employment. Use in-person or virtually.

  1. Draw a line for the participants. Explain to participants that one end of the line represents “Agree” and the other end represents “Disagree.”
  2. Explain to the participants that you will read a statement and they have to identify what their opinion is along the line. You can have them do this using stickers or annotating on the screen. It is a spectrum, so they don’t have to identify only disagree or agree, but can be anywhere in between. Ensure participants know that it is okay to answer honestly and to respect each other’s answers.
  3. Read the statements provided in the Statements for Spectrum Activity. You may elect to add or edit statements based on the group you are working with and time considerations.
  4. After each statement, you may want to ask follow-up questions to understand choices.
  5. Ask participants the list of questions, which are designed to have participants reflect on goals generally speaking, and the need to become self-sufficient.
    • Based on the exercise, what have you realized is most important to you? What are your perceptions of men and women related to work, employment, and the family?
    • How might your perceptions and needs change now that you are in the United States? How might they influence your ability to become self-sufficient?
    • How do the items you identified as being important influence your goals? Your ability to be self-sufficient?
  6. If time allows, share the Employment for Refugee Women fact sheet or podcast (available in multiple languages), or provide it as a material for participants after the session.

  • Do not pass judgment on responses provided, and avoid “why” questions.
  • Utilize the Employment for Refugee Women fact sheet or podcast for reference. If using the podcast, the fact sheet can serve as a transcript for the interpreter.
  • If the group is smaller or more reserved, you may elect to have them mark their answers on a piece of paper independently.
  • If conducting the session online, you can use the tools provided by the online platform like annotation tools to complete the activity.

Goals and Employment

This activity is ideal for exploring how employment contributes to achieving participant goals. Use in-person or virtually.

  1. Share the Employment for Refugee Women fact sheet or podcast (available in multiple languages), or provide it as review material before or after the session.
  2. Ask participants to think about their goals (either as individuals or for their families, or both), both short-term and long-term.
  3. Have participants share their goals.
  4. Ask the following debrief questions:
    • How does having a job contribute to achieving your goals?
    • How do other family members having a job contribute to you achieving these goals?
    • What are some consequences of not having a job?

  • This activity can be treated as a broad discussion of goals or integrated into existing activities around goals.
  • Based on education and literacy, it also may be valuable to facilitate additional activities before going directly into goal setting.
  • Depending on participants and time, you may have them write their goals or depict them visually.

Employment Scenarios

This activity is ideal for discussing the importance of multiple members of the family working. Use in-person or virtually.

  1. Start by asking participants: What are the advantages of women working? What are the advantages of men working? Other members of the family?
  2. After collecting responses, ask participants to compare and contrast the answers. Ask them about potential disadvantages for men working? For women? Other members of the family?
  3. Provide participants with different scenarios and either guide them through the discussion points, or have the participants work in groups to respond (again depending on the group and the participants’ abilities and level).
  4. Review responses of the scenarios together.
  5. If time allows, share and review the Employment for Refugee Women video.

  • You can adapt and alter scenarios to best fit the context for the group of participants.

Self-Sufficiency using the Settle In app

This activity is ideal for covering key concepts of self-sufficiency and employment, while integrating digital technology. Use in-person or virtually.

  1. Ask participants to define the term self-sufficiency. Explain to participants that self-sufficiency is the ability to provide for oneself and is important for integration in the U.S.
  2. Access Settle In (available in multiple languages) either through the mobile or desktop app.
  3. Open the “Working in the United States” chapter of Settle In and then select the lesson: Self-Sufficiency.
  4. Before participants complete the lesson on Settle In, ask them to predict what information they might learn in this lesson. Record the responses.
  5. Work with participants and coach participants on completing the lesson. Have participants complete the actions collectively using one desktop or have participants work in pairs or individually to complete the lesson on tablets and/or smartphones. As appropriate, monitor progress and assist participants as needed in navigating the technology.
  6. Compare their predictions with what they actually learned in completing the lesson.

  • Computer or other digital device for using the Settle In app. If using desktop, access to reliable WiFi

  • Based on participants’ digital abilities and digital access, you can have participants complete the chapter and lesson either before class to help generate discussion or after class as a review.
  • If additional guidance on using technology during cultural orientation is needed, please reference CORE’s How to Integrate Digital Technology document or online course.
  • For more information on Settle In, see CORE’s Refugee Communications Tools.

Finding a Job using the Settle In app

This activity is ideal for covering how to find a job in the U.S. while also integrating digital technology. Use in-person or virtually.

  1. Ask participants: What was finding a job like in your country/ies of origin and/or protection?
  2. Ask participants: What questions do you have about finding a job in the U.S.? Record responses.
  3. Access Settle In (available in multiple languages) either through the mobile or desktop app.
  4. Open the “Working in the United States” chapter of Settle In and then select the lesson: Finding a Job.
  5. Work with participants and coach participants on completing the lesson. Have participants complete the actions collectively using one desktop or have participants work in pairs or individually to complete the lesson on tablets and/or smartphones. As appropriate, monitor progress and assist participants as needed in navigating the technology.
  6. Compare their proposed questions from the beginning of the activity with what they actually learned in completing the lesson. Provide additional information as necessary.

  • Computer or other digital device for using the Settle In app. If using desktop, access to reliable WiFi

  • Based on participants’ digital abilities and digital access, you can have participants complete the chapter and lesson either before class to help generate discussion or after class as a review.
  • If additional guidance on using technology during cultural orientation is needed, please reference CORE’s How to Integrate Digital Technology document or online course.
  • For more information on Settle In, see CORE’s Refugee Communications Tools.

Steps to Employment using the Settle In app

This activity is ideal for covering the steps to finding and securing a job in the U.S. while also integrating digital technology. Use in-person or virtually.

  1. Ask participants: What were the steps needed to secure a job in your country/ies of origin and/or protection?
  2. Ask participants: What questions do you have about the steps to employment in the U.S.? Record responses.
  3. Access Settle In (available in multiple languages) either through the mobile or desktop app.
  4. Open the “Working in the United States” chapter of Settle In and then select the lesson: Steps to Employment.
  5. Work with participants and coach participants on completing the lesson. Have participants complete the actions collectively using one desktop or have participants work in pairs or individually to complete the lesson on tablets and/or smartphones. As appropriate, monitor progress and assist participants as needed in navigating the technology.
  6. Compare their proposed questions from the beginning of the activity with what they actually learned in completing the lesson. Provide additional information as necessary.

  • Computer or other digital device for using the Settle In app. If using desktop, access to reliable WiFi

  • Based on participants’ digital abilities and digital access, you can have participants complete the chapter and lesson either before class to help generate discussion or after class as a review.
  • If additional guidance on using technology during cultural orientation is needed, please reference CORE’s How to Integrate Digital Technology document or online course.
  • For more information on Settle In, see CORE’s Refugee Communications Tools.

Value of Employment Discussion

This activity is ideal for reviewing the importance of self-sufficiency and employment in the U.S. Use in-person or virtually.

  1. Ask participants: What is your work experience? If appropriate, discuss formal and informal work experience.
  2. Ask participants: Why is it important to have a job in the U.S.? Record responses.
  3. Share images from Employment Reason Cards. Ask participants if there are any reasons in the images that were not previously identified.
  4. Ask participants: Which of these reasons are the most important to you? Least important? If possible, have participants vote, then ask them to explain answers and follow-up as necessary.

  • Pair this activity with Goals and Employment activity.
  • If conducting virtually, provide physical CO packet of materials ahead of time with images.
  • You can adapt and alter images to best fit the context for the participants.

Finding a Job in the U.S. Activity

This activity is ideal for introducing basic concepts of finding a job in the U.S., including how to find a job, common jobs, and desired skills. Use in-person or virtually.

  1. Start by assessing participants’ knowledge. Read each statement and ask if participants agree or disagree. Correct and provide additional information as necessary.
    • It is the Resettlement Agency’s responsibility to find you a job. (Disagree)
    •  Learning English can help you find a job and increase your job opportunities. (Agree)
    • You will have little trouble finding a job in the same career you had at home. (Disagree)
    • You will likely need to work in an entry-level job. (Agree)
  2. Ask participants: How will you look for a job? Record responses.
  3. Share Ways to Find Jobs Images. Ask participants if there are any ways to find a job that they have forgotten.
  4. Ask participants: What are some examples of first jobs you may find in the U.S.?
  5. Share Common Jobs Images. Ask participants if there are any jobs that they may have missed.
  6. Ask participants: What are some skills that you may need for your first job? Record responses. Review and add additional information as needed. This is an opportunity to focus on soft skills, such as work ethic, attention to detail, communication.

  • Provide localized context and materials about employment as appropriate.
  • If conducting virtually, provide physical CO packet of materials ahead of time with images.
  • You can adapt and alter images to best fit the context for the participants.

Scarcity of Jobs Activity

This activity is ideal to emphasize the importance of accepting the first job and exploring concept of competition in the job market. For in-person use.

  1. Set up chairs in a circle with the seats of the chairs facing outward or place pens (or another small object) on a table. Include one fewer chair or pen (or another object) than the number of participants.
  2. Inform participants that each chair (or pen or other small object) represents a job in the United States
  3. Inform participants that you will play music and that when the music stops they must pick a chair or pick up a pen. Anyone who does not have a chair or pen will be “out” of the game.
  4. Play music and after a few seconds, stop the music. One participant should be left standing. This participant is “out” of the game. Remove another chair or pen (or another small object) and repeat the exercise. You may remove more than one item at a time, depending on time and number of participants. Continue the activity until only one participant remains.
  5. Ask participants the following debrief questions at the end of the game.
    • What strategy did you use to get a chair? How can you apply this strategy when looking for a job?
    • What are the consequences of not taking a job?

  • Chairs or pens (or another small object)
  • Music

  • Be sure that the participants are comfortable with the game in terms of possible contact with other participants, and modify rules as necessary.
  • If desired, you can tape pictures of common jobs on the chairs or tag pens with the names of common job positions, and incorporate this as another layer of discussion.
  • Select the use of chairs or pens (or another small object) based on participants and space.

Adapted from European Resettlement and Integration Technical Assistance and RSC Africa’s U.S. Refugee Admissions Program