Arranging suitable employment for immigrants from the Africa Great Lakes region living in Portland, Maine

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Southern New Hampshire University
This project is established to teach 120 African immigrants English, financial literacy, American workplace culture, and to provide advice and networking for improved pathways to better employment. The focus of the work is Africans from the Great Lakes region of Central Africa, those who come from Burundi, Rwanda, and DR Congo. The Great Lakes people represent almost 800 people new to Portland in just the last 8 or 9 years. This project is important to the people of Portland and to the business owners and employers of Portland because these people are highly motivated to integrate into society, to speak English well, and to advance in their careers in their new home. The general problem for this community is that there are few who meet the requirements for early job success and even these 150 or so adults are unable to gain stable, well paying jobs and they lack an understanding of finances so they do not manage their money well. These people do not understand the American workplace culture and do not understand fully the various types of jobs available to them. As a result most families in this community are low income. The project focuses on 120 men and women chosen on the basis of their readiness for better employment and their motivation to succeed. The participants engaged in a series of courses, prepared themselves for interviews, engaged in networking with area employers, and began applying for higher level jobs with more confidence. The major outcomes to date are the completion of the coursework and the relationships developed with the business and financial community. The major challenges remain however as no one has taken a better job as a result of the project. The recommendations are to continue the program with more financing. Time is of the essence as more people are arriving and the economy begins to turn around. The people of the Great Lakes must be ready to take advantage of a better labor market, not just for themselves, but for their families and the whole community. (Author abstract)