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Mutual Benefit: How Vocational Training Programs Utilize Employer Engagement and Refugee Strengths to Facilitate Integration

Gran Sasso Science Istituto, Via Michelle Jacobucci, 2, 67100 L’Aquila, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(5), 145;
Received: 12 April 2019 / Revised: 2 May 2019 / Accepted: 5 May 2019 / Published: 8 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Immigration and Refugee Integration Policy in the United States)
PDF [284 KB, uploaded 8 May 2019]


Successful integration of newly arriving refugees requires the engagement of the receiving community and active facilitation of integration through provision of employment, access to housing, and protection of basic rights. Understanding how local entities effectively facilitate integration is important for policymakers and scholars interested in identifying best practices and replicating outcomes. This study examines the integration outcomes of refugees who participated in a vocational hospitality training program in Chicago, Illinois between 2008 and 2012. In particular, we explore the integration experiences—using employment, housing, and homeownership—of Bhutanese origin refugees who represented the largest country of origin group in the hospitality course. We find that the Bhutanese refugees who participated in the course had high rates of homeownership, stable employment, higher wages and experienced socioeconomic upward mobility—positive indicators of integration. In our analysis, we identify three reasons the program is successful in facilitating integration: a practice of selective enrollment, active employer engagement, and informed industry selection. Importantly, our findings suggest a positive benefit for employers in addition to refugee employees.
Keywords: integration; refugees; employment; vocational training; community engagement integration; refugees; employment; vocational training; community engagement
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Lumley-Sapanski, A.; Callahan, N.J. Mutual Benefit: How Vocational Training Programs Utilize Employer Engagement and Refugee Strengths to Facilitate Integration. Soc. Sci. 2019, 8, 145.

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