State Letter 13-04

ORR Collaboration with the Department of Labor

Publication Date: August 5, 2013

To:  State Refugee Coordinators
National Voluntary Agencies
ACF Regional Administrators
Mutual Assistance Associations

From:  Eskinder Negash
Office of Refugee Resettlement

In June 2010, ORR defined six guiding principles that would lead to effective outreach in State Letter #10-09.  One of those principles was outreach; specifically outreach to various organizations and stakeholders including the federal government, in order to identify opportunities for collaboration in the best interests of refugees.  In line with this principle, ORR has renewed collaboration with the Department of Labor.  The purpose of this state letter is to inform ORR stakeholders of the results achieved to date from this renewed collaboration. 

In November 2012, ORR began working with DOL’s Office of the Secretary to find partners interested in working with ORR within the Department.  The initial meeting led to various collaborations with different offices.  Primarily, ORR has been working with DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA).  Through this collaboration, we have created tools and are sharing resources to educate both workforce investment and refugee resettlement stakeholders. 

  1. Refugee Mapping Tool — ORR worked with ETA to create a Refugee Mapping Tool.  Specifically, ORR provided population data for the past six fiscal years to ETA.  ORR’s intent in sharing data is to raise awareness of ORR populations as potential clients.  With this tool, workforce system stakeholders can be aware of the numbers of ORR eligible populations in a given city or zip code.  ORR hopes this tool will not only provide State and Local Workforce Investment Boards with data regarding an untapped employment pool with great potential and diverse experience, but also help to drive state and local strategies, trainings and investment priorities.
  2. "Refugee 101” Webcast — ORR, along with the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) presented a webcast produced by ETA entitled “Refugee 101”, accessible on DOL’s Workforce3one website. This webcast is designed to be a timeless resource for workforce investment stakeholders. 
  3. ORR Fact Sheet — ORR created a fact sheet for stakeholders who did not want to watch the entire webcast but wanted a quick overview of ORR programs.  This resource can be accessed here and on DOL’s Workforce3one website.
  4. Workforce Investment System and American Job Centers Fact Sheets — ETA has provided information for refugee stakeholders regarding the workforce investment system and American Job Centers.  ORR provided these fact sheets (Workforce Investment System Overview and One-Stop Career Center (American Job Centers) Overview) to Higher Visit disclaimer page , ORR’s Refugee Employment Technical Assistance Provider, who published them in their blog Visit disclaimer page .
  5. Models of Collaboration Guide — This brief guide aims to highlight a few models where workforce investment and resettlement stakeholders have collaborated to link refugees to mainstream employment services.  ORR in collaboration with ETA, hopes to release this guide and host a webinar on these models in the coming months.
  6. Apprenticeship — ORR had the opportunity to meet with the Office of Apprenticeship (OA) and to connect Higher, ORR’s Refugee Employment Technical Assistance Provider to the office.  OA provides training and technical assistance to employers who would like to develop apprenticeship programs.  OA also recently created guidelines for pre-apprenticeship programs.

Outside of ETA, ORR has been able to work with other DOL offices as well.  The following is a list of additional resources and tools.

  1. DOL Secretary’s Regional Representatives — Housed in DOL’s Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, the DOL Secretary has Regional Representatives who work across all of DOL’s agencies (e.g. Wage and Hour; Occupational Safety and Health Administration) to help promote collaborative worker empowerment and protection to stakeholders.  The resettlement network can contact the Secretary’s Regional Representatives to obtain assistance for refugees and other ORR populations on topics such as worker safety, proper payment of wages and workforce training in your state. 
  2. NAWB Conference — In March 2013, through collaboration with DOL’s Office of Policy Development and Research, ORR had the opportunity to co-present at a workshop entitled "Making the Match Between Immigrant Jobseekers and Local Employers” at the annual conference of the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB).

ORR looks forward to furthering our collaboration with the Department of Labor.  Please direct any questions on this State Letter to Dee Daniels Scriven, Special Assistant to the Director at 202-205-4597 or

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