Immigrant Career Pathway
Hartford Public Library, Conn.
In this innovative cross-sector partnership, HPL and Hartford Public Schools Food and Child Nutrition department (the largest food supplier in Hartford) create an attainable food-service pathway for immigrants with limited employability skills, which enhances the library’s three-pillar framework (linguistic, civic and economic) necessary for successful immigrant integration.
Access to labor market opportunities for economic advancement remains a major barrier to immigrant integration. Labor statistics indicate a disproportionate share of immigrants are chronically un/underemployed and are one of the most exploited populations working in entry-level positions. The foodservice industry (one of the fastest growing industries nationally) employs countless numbers of immigrants, yet those employed in these positions often lack awareness of their workplace rights and how to navigate avenues of advancement.
Key Elements of Innovation
This program operated as a two-pronged holistic model, offering beginner English for entry-level positions in institution kitchens and ServSafe certificate training for advancement opportunities for immigrants currently employed in the foodservice industry. It includes: digital literacy offered through a blended- instruction model; on-site career readiness/placement provided through the region’s workforce board; and, experiential learning – all participants intern at the schools’ full-production institution kitchens making them eligible for benefited positions as opposed to most per-diem wages at restaurants and fast-food chains.
Since January 2017, 17 food handler participants were hired by the schools and 10 ServSafe certificate awardees increased advancement opportunities and diversified composition of kitchen staff. Additionally, immigrant workplace rights awareness increased amongst employers/employees. This Career Pathways Initiative is part of a three year $3.95 million private investment, bringing together 10 key stakeholder career pathways projects whose outcomes are being evaluated through a collective impact lens; HPL is the only participating Library.