Iowa has a labor shortage at the same time there’s an influx of refugees, so Iowa Workforce Development is now partnering with resettlement groups to place Iowa’s newest residents in jobs.

Stephanie Moris, director of the Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa, says before a business hires a refugee, resources should be in place, as more businesses are open to hiring non-English speakers.

Moris says, “For a state who has a population decline and having an employee shortage crisis going on, for us it’s been great to be able to connect to employers who are willing now to think outside of the box.”

Moris says employers need to be innovative when it comes to addressing barriers like language and transportation for refugees. That’s why IowaWorks developed the three-part series on how to tackle such issues. They’re now available online for businesses across Iowa to access.

Edgar Ramirez helped lead the webinar series and says he sometimes sees businesses hire refugees without forethought. Ramirez says, “But it’s not just a matter of hiring them and placing them and keeping them, but now it’s becoming more of realizing that this is long term.”

Ramirez says he wants the state to focus on building more infrastructure for refugees. He’s helping to organize job fairs across Iowa that will specifically spotlight the refugee community in the coming months.

(By Kendall Crawford, Iowa Public Radio)