How the Utah Refugee Training & Education Center Offers New Beginnings

As a partnership between the Utah Department of Workforce Services, Salt Lake Community College, and Utah State University the Utah Refugee Education Center (UREC) is changing the lives of refugees in the greater Salt Lake area. Offering a new beginning right after they arrive in Utah, the center is a perfect place for refugees to ask questions and get a schedule for classes or training programs. The community at the UREC often describes it as a place they feel at home. The UREC makes higher education attainable to refugees no matter their situation, and offers programs that increase the opportunities, employment, comfort, and success of individuals and families in the community. The UREC bridges the gap between arrival to the U.S. and a refugee’s first job, and brings them the training and skills needed to earn a living that will provide for them and their families.

As reported by Deseret News, the wages of refugees resettled in Utah tend to be lower than the typical population, and the center is working hard to change that. Classes at the UREC focus on key areas like employment and interview preparedness, computer use, and entrepreneurial help for new or growing businesses. The center enables refugees to get entry-level jobs and continue with higher education if they choose. The education refugees receive can also help adults with their children’s education and teach skills needed to navigate a new country and customs. Offering training and classes to parents and older siblings only increases the opportunities and success of younger refugees trying to acclimate to a new place.

Different refugee service providers are engaged in varied ways, an example being the English Skills Learning Center providing citizenship training classes. A program called English Language Learners (ELL) offers multiple pathways for refugees to learn the English language at a pace and level that works for them. It starts with an emergent reader level and works up to a professional English course. Complete immersion in a new language can be one of the most difficult times for a foreign speaker, and the language center can be a big help to those in the community that seek it.

One of the stand-out benefits offered at the center is the Child Care Center, where any student can have their children taken care of during classes. Integration into an entirely new place and culture is no doubt an intimidating process, but luckily the UREC has refugees covered for a lot of their needs. The center has specialized Supportive Services for the community, women, and youth, and even has a place for physical and mental health. The Supportive Services page states: “Our team provides a comprehensive support system to refugees — starting the day they arrive — in order to support full refugee integration.” The mission to help refugees in every aspect possible is a wonderful addition to the culture and makeup of Salt Lake City.

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