Employment was a major topic for many of our focus groups. Many research participants from the four focus groups shared similar sentiments regarding the difficulties around finding a job in Greater Hartford in general. Specifically because they had to find a job so quickly upon arriving. Participants also shared similar struggles about the language barriers which many of them face at work, and difficulty accessing higher-paying employment as a result.
Without question the most significant roadblock for many of the research group (from an employment perspective) was the struggle with English. Because the refugees must find work so quickly after arriving in Greater Hartford, they don’t often have enough time to build a strong foundation in English before they have to work. Additionally, some of them work in environments where they are working with other non-english speakers, which leaves little opportunity for practice. Attending traditional English classes around their work schedule was also a problem which some of the participants mentioned.
We have gathered the following quotes from our participants in all four focus groups. They are broken into three categories:
Overall difficulty in finding employment
The participants often mentioned an overall difficulty in finding employment — specifically the need to do so very quickly after arriving in the United States.
Limitations on types of employment because of language barrier
It was mentioned by several participants how a lack of a strong level in English is a major problem when it comes to finding various types of employment. The language barrier often prohibited some research participants from getting what could be higher-paying jobs.
Need for knowledge of different career paths and trajectories
Some of the participants, particularly those with strong English skills, expressed a need to know about what career paths are available to them. Some of them are working on higher education studies but don’t have the network needed to find a career they desire.