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Omaha employers reach out to Afghan refugees for resumes

By Michelle Bandur

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    OMAHA, Nebraska (KETV) — With nearly 2,000 Afghan refugees expected to move to Nebraska in the next few months, some companies are reaching out asking for resumes.

Resettlement agencies, such as Lutheran Family Services and Refugee Empowerment Center, are working hand-in-hand with employers to get the new residents hired and start their new lives.

Heartland Workforce Solutions is also getting ready for the rush of Afghan refugees.

“How are we going to get them incorporated into the workforce and get them to be sustainable as soon as possible?” asked Savannah High with Heartland Workforce Solutions.

The collaborative network of nonprofits, companies and community leaders started the conversation back in August. When the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, families had to flee their country and leave behind their belongings and jobs.

“We know culturally, they are going to want to work. They want to be independent and a lot of these folks are really skilled and highly educated,” High said.

Lutheran Family Services said it’s already settled about 200 families in Omaha and expects around 1,800 in Nebraska by February.

Even before the Afghan refugees arrive in Omaha, about 20 local businesses are ready to hand them an application for jobs that are available.

“We also know talent comes from everywhere. We want to make sure we can bring talent onto our team, no matter where it comes from,” Omaha Steaks CEO Todd Simon said.

Simon said his human resources department is working on translating employment and training materials.

“We want to make the process of them joining the team as seamless as possible,” he said.

He said his company partnered right away with Heartland Workforce Solutions to make sure refugees knew they would be welcome in his workplace.

“We are just one part of a big machine that will welcome these individuals to the community and help them get established,” Simon said.

High said getting a job and earning a paycheck helps bring back hope the refugees may have lost when they fled Afghanistan.

“Hopefully we can provide some really good opportunities for them in the future,” High said.

The organizations are working on holding a “Welcome to America job fair” for the refugees. They expect it to take place in February.

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