Resettlement agencies have undertaken Herculean efforts to help Afghans like Kabir and his family find housing, enroll children in school and provide English language training. They were joined by local churches, community groups and families from Texas to California to Virginia, opening their arms in inspiring ways to their new neighbors.
But the most important step in a refugee’s journey is getting a job, and yet many of them still struggle to do so. They might lack English proficiency; have resumes with work experiences, certifications, or company names that are unfamiliar to hiring personnel; or face transportation difficulties due to the fact that they do not have a driver’s license. Companies need to step up their efforts to reduce barriers to work for Afghans (and other refugees) – both to provide decent jobs and to offer a ladder from entry-level work to jobs that reflect their backgrounds and backgrounds. qualifications.
Ultimately, the refugees want a helping hand, not a handout. Obtaining decent work is when refugees find the dignity to support themselves and their families, and when they can begin to put down roots in their new community.
Thanks to efforts like these, many thousands of Afghans have now found decent jobs in the United States, including in Kabir. On April 11, he started as a purchasing associate at Pfizer. It’s a new start for Kabir. As he says, “Now I’m rebuilding my life from ground zero.”
A year later, we estimate that more than half of Afghan refugees seeking employment have found employment; but that means there is still a lot of work to do. Many more companies need to step up to hire Afghan refugees, making modest investments to overcome language, transportation and other barriers. And while entry-level jobs in sectors such as hospitality, catering and retail are absolutely essential to providing refugees with the opportunity to earn a living, improve their English and learn the skills not skills needed to navigate the American workplace, these jobs should be the beginning, not the end of their professional journey. Through mentorship, training and career advancement opportunities, companies must do more to help Afghans move into jobs that make the most of their skills.
Despite everything that has happened, Kabir thanks fate for bringing him to America. We can’t let him down.