Many employers have expressed interest in hiring Afghan evacuees, said Bojana Zorić Martinez, director of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families’ Bureau of Refugee Programs.

“There are a lot of employment opportunities all across the state,” she said.

But businesses won’t benefit, economic development officials say, unless Afghans can find transportation and overcome other workforce barriers that affect non-immigrant workers as well. Some evacuees need training in English, others need access to affordable child care.

Federally contracted resettlement nonprofits have helped Afghans find housing and jobs, but they aren’t equipped to address all employment barriers.

“Having a new population of Afghan immigrants is just another opportunity to help bolster our workforce,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

She added that employers must understand their workers’ traumatic experiences and help them succeed.

“Businesses have to be a part of this resettlement. They can’t just be a recipient of this human being,” Hughes said.

[Adapted from: Afghan evacuees eager to help fill Wisconsin jobs, but face barriers from transportation to language to child care, May 6, 2022 Wisconsin Watch]