Arabic, Kurdish manufacturing class to address labor shortage

Jan. 31, 2024, 5 a.m. ·

Manufacturing Jobs
The manufacturing classes in Arabic, Kurdish and Ukrainian are aimed toward helping refugees and new arrivals to the U.S. find jobs, while also helping to address labor shortages in the state. (Photo by Umit Yildirim/Unsplash).

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The Lincoln Manufacturing Council is partnering with Lincoln Literacy, a local nonprofit organization that helps the community with language and literacy skills, to host an entry-level manufacturing course in Arabic and Kurdish—common languages for many refugees from the Middle East. Organizers said this class will help both the refugees being resettled in the state as well as the manufacturing companies seeking to address labor shortages.

“One of the big issues that immigrants and refugees face is finding a good job, finding a job that can help them to be able to pay their rent and bills," said Amir Waly, the instructor for the Arabic/Kurdish class. "And working with these companies, of course, that's going to provide the good income for the family. And then in the return, it's going to help the companies to have less shortage."

Waly graduated from the course himself, although he took it when it was only available in English.

Waly's class is at capacity at 20 students, with others on a waitlist.

Starting Feb. 22, the partnership will be hosting its second round of Ukrainian manufacturing classes. There are currently open spots available.

Chloe Higgins, the workforce development project administrator for Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development, is helping coordinate the classes.

“We have a workforce shortage in Nebraska. That hits manufacturers really hard because a lot of those jobs that manufacturers need to fill are very entry level, very basic, like, assembly line positions," she said. "And there are a number of talent pools in Lincoln specifically, because that's where we are, that are really unreached. And one of those talent pools is immigrant and refugee populations.”

The Ukrainian and Arabic/Kurdish classes are on a fast-track schedule of three weeks as opposed to the other courses which can last six weeks. At the end of the classes, students and employers will attend a job fair. Interpreters like Waly, will be there to assist with applications.

Students will be provided with transportation to and from class, a meal and childcare.