(Buffalo, N.Y.) – As refugees stand in line on the front porch of Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Assistance office, waiting to meet with an employment counselor, many are hopeful that they will find the perfect job opportunity. That usually means a job that requires minimal English and will fit their skill or trade.
Six months after arriving in America, the financial assistance given to refugees is taken away, and they need to find employment by that time. With English being a barrier for many, jobs for refugees are few and far between and the clock is ticking.
Dagnachew Jenbere, a recently relocated Ethiopian immigrant waiting in the Catholic Charities job placement office, simply says “job.” Asking for more comments, he speechless due to his inability to speak and understand the English language.
“The problem is that many of these refugees are highly educated when they come into the United States, however their qualifications and language barrier makes it difficult to find them employment,” said Corey Neil, a Catholic Charities job placement counselor. “They all need jobs.”
As a result, Neil said, “Many times refugee workers don’t like the work that they have and will just quit their jobs and expect to find another.”
Neil is one of the many counselors in the city of Buffalo who are working to place these jobless refugees into a position where they can support themselves and their families. He works everyday exchanging information with different employers and soliciting new potential employers for the thousands of refugees infiltrating the region.
Part of this employment process for these refugees is ensuring that they speak enough English in order to succeed in their job. Therefore, Catholic Charities offers English classes to incoming refugees in order to help them to become successful in their employment.
“If we succeed at getting someone employed but they are unprepared to perform to the employer’s standards, this prevents future refugees from being considered for a position,” said Neil.
According to Journey’s End, another Buffalo non-profit refugee resettlement service, last year 1,600 refugees resettled into the city of Buffalo and they are expecting up to 2,000 new refugees in 2016.
As the amount of refugees arriving in the region increases, job placement for these refugees is becoming more and more difficult.