RD854 - Improving Participation of Refugees in Virginia’s Workforce

Executive Summary:

Chapter 552, 2021 Acts of Assembly directs the Secretary of Labor to convene a work group to identify barriers that recent refugees in Virginia face to entering the workforce; assess participation in adult education and workforce training programs; compare, to the extent practicable, the current employment of recent refugees to that of their employment, including any occupational and professional credentials and academic degrees earned, prior to resettling in the United States; and identify the top occupations that recent refugees seek to work in Virginia and make recommendations for addressing any barriers that prevent them from using their work experience gained outside of the United States to obtaining employment in these occupations in Virginia.

Work group members consisted of representatives from the Departments of Education, Social Services, Professional and Occupational Regulation, Health Professions; the Health Workforce Development Authority; Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; the Virginia Community College System; Commonwealth Catholic Charities, Catholic Charities; Migration and Refugee Services; International Rescue Committee; Church World Services; Lutheran Social Services; Ethiopian Development Council; NoVA Friends of Refugees; ReEstablish Richmond; local one-stop career centers that have experience serving refugees; and multiple national nonprofit organizations.

The work group met three times, and all work group meetings were conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A public comment survey was also conducted to develop general considerations to better serve refugees. The resulting considerations are as follows:

Goal 1: Engage all local, state and national partners, nonprofit organizations, ethnic communities, and government agencies who support refugees to increase communication and services around employment.

Goal 2: Partner with employers to develop expedited pathways to employment for refugees.

Goal 3: Collaborate with agencies and nonprofits to support the success of refugees on the job or in training with childcare, housing, transportation, and other support services.

Goal 4: Develop career and licensing pathway maps for refugees where previous work and educational experiences can be leveraged.

Goal 5: Strengthen the alignment and relationships between higher educational institutions and the refugee population in Virginia.

Goal 6: Identify partners, non-profit organizations, and agencies with access to data on employment of refugees and utilize data to improve services available to refugees.