News & Media

IU13 Program Will Connect Refugees to Career Pathways
: Supporting refugees with language barriers

10/22/2018 By Shannan Guthrie

IU13 Program Will Connect Refugees to Career Pathways
Supporting refugees with language barriers

The Community Education program at IU13 recently received grant funding worth $750,000 to develop and support Refugee Career Pathway programs. The three-year funding ($250,000 for three consecutive years) is through the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services.

The Community Education Program  at IU13 will lead a network of partners in creating a career pathways program called Solid Futures: Connecting Refugees to Career Pathways, which specifically targets refugees. In each of three 12-month program periods, IU13 will serve 50 refugee participants (for a total of 150 participants served), with classroom programs that allow students to simultaneously increase their language and basic skills and work on college/career-level studies; intensive case management, mentoring, language support, and cultural navigation; and individualized career development plans to help refugees progress through career pathways, aligned to local needs, including but not limited to:
·       Construction Laborer
·       Welders, Cutters, Solderers, & Brazers
·       Medical Assistant
·       Medical Secretary
·       Dental Assistant
·       Supervisors - Food Preparation & Serving Workers

“This funding source provides a unique opportunity for refugees with language barriers to obtain training and certification in high-priority occupations so they can land jobs with family-sustaining wages. Employers are desperate for trained workers, and this grant creates a pipeline of new employees which will stimulate the local economy. We’re looking forward to working collaboratively with our partners in Lancaster to collectively impact the lives of 150 refugees and their families over the 3-year grant cycle.”

As part of the Lancaster County Refugee and Immigrant Coalition (LCRIC), IU13 has extensive experience in serving refugees and immigrants through its community education program,” commented Tim Shenk, Program Director of Community Education at IU13. “For this project, other partners will include the Literacy Council of Lancaster-Lebanon, SouthEast Lancaster Health Services, Tec Centro, local refugee resettlement agencies, local employers, the Workforce Development Board, and postsecondary education and training providers.

Since 2014, resettlement organizations in Lancaster County, PA have helped resettle 1,630 refugees from many nations including Cuba, Somalia, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Bhutan, Syria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. A recent BBC article named Lancaster, PA, “the refugee capital of the U.S.” Lancaster has resettled more refugees per capita than any other U.S. city, and is known as a leader in creating a welcoming community for refugee and immigrant populations. While many refugees have made Lancaster their home, and services are in place to help them settle in their new city, refugees’ lack of English proficiency and inability to navigate a complex system of interrelated services prevent them from getting on a career path towards a family-sustaining job.