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Raising Wages Through Job Training

Two years ago, Senait, a young woman from Ethiopia, picked up her life and moved to the United States. At first, she held down two jobs, working as a cashier for both Dunkin Donuts and 7-Eleven, while learning English at her local community college. But employers only offered her late-night, part-time hours – underemployment meant she wasn’t earning enough to provide for herself or plan for the future.

To secure a good, well-paying job, Senait sought help from the Chinese Mutual Aid Association (CMAA), a United Way of Metro Chicago partner offering services to low-income immigrants and refugees. Like many United Way partners, CMAA takes a “whole person” approach, providing education, employment, immigration, and other services to address individuals’ and families’ varying and interconnected needs.  When families are supported and their basic needs are met, they can support their households, and contribute to their community and local economy.

During her time in the employment program, Senait learned valuable interview and job skills, used the agency’s computer lab to apply for jobs, and got job coaching support during the process. Today, Senait’s working full-time at a luxury hotel, where she’s increased her hourly wages by 72 percent. With this additional income, she’s been able to finish another ESL class, which will put her in a position to keep advancing her career.  

Around the world, United Way is working to help refugees rebuild their lives.