by Mike Knaak
The next step in an effort to connect St. Joseph’s immigrant population with employers seeking workers takes place on Monday, Aug. 13.
Cultural Bridges and Career Solutions are hosting a panel for employers from 2 4:30 p.m. at Resource Training and Solutions, 137 23rd St. S., Sartell. As of earlier this week, five employers who are ready to employ immigrants have agreed to participate on the panel.
“It’s a comfortable environment for business leaders to ask questions of their peers about their successes and how they’ve overcome challenges,” said Sister Renee Domeier in an email.
The Aug. 13 panels follows an effort by Cultural Bridges to survey St. Joseph businesses asking about their employee needs and their willingness to hire immigrants.
Cultural Bridges contacted 64 of about 100 businesses in St. Joseph by phone or in person. Twenty-five businesses responded and 11 said they were interested in learning more about how to hire immigrants. Six businesses said they were unsure and eight said they had no interest.
“We were really thrilled with that response and a sign that people in St. Joseph were curious about how to engage people for their success,” said Raj Chaphalkar, Cultural Bridges member.
“We believe that people who have access to a job in their hometown have access to a higher quality of life and the dignity of work and freedom to develop in their own town,” Chaphalkar said. “Our job is to smooth the path.”
Cultural Bridges member Dianne DeVargas said there are more than 50 Somali families living in St. Joseph and they would like to find jobs close to home.
“We realized there are lot of barriers to applying for a job. A lot of job applications are online. People have never used a computer and they are not literate in English,” Chaphalkar said. “We needed to find out which companies are ready to hire immigrants. They are culturally aware and see a competitive advantage in having an integrated workforce and then steer applicants to them.”
In addition to the survey and organizing the panel, Cultural Bridges continues to teach English as a Second Language.
About 25 adults have completed the classes. The class meets for an hour and a half two days a week during the school year. Leaning English is important for completing job applications as well as communicating with other employees on the job.
Business leaders interested in attending the Aug. 13 panel can register online at http://www.resourcetraining.com/Event/13151. Question can be directed to Kari Court at email@example.com. There is a $20 registration fee.