GE Appliances
GE Appliances Provides Job Opportunities for Refugees

GE Appliances Provides Job Opportunities for Refugees

June 27, 2022
Since February, the company has hired several dozen refugees from both Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo for various manufacturing jobs.

Edris Akseer has traveled a long way.

After serving as a linguist with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, he endured a difficult escape once the war ended and is now an employee of  GE Appliances (a Haier company) in Louisville, Kentucky.

It’s a road that was paved by GEA’s workforce development program that connects refugees in Louisville to good jobs at the company. Partnering with Catholic Charities and KY Refugee Ministries, the company has hired several dozen refugees from both Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo for various manufacturing roles at the plant. Louisville is an entry point for an immigrant population that has grown over the past 20 years.  

The initiative to bring refugees into the company, led by talent recruiter Gabriela Salazar, is based on a program that began by reaching out to members of Louisville's Hispanic immigrant population. This successful program evolved to bringing in refugees. "For the company to be able to provide an opportunity for them to have a job so that they can provide for their families, and they can build a new life in Louisville, that's exciting," Gabriela said in a blog.

Part of the success of the program is that interpreters are provided so that language isn’t a barrier to landing a job.  In fact, some of the company’s own bilingual employees volunteer their time to serve as interpreters to help new employees thrive.

Language plays a large part in the operations of the Louisville manufacturing plants with  42 languages spoken. Languages include  Spanish, Pashto and Dari, Swahili, and French. However, some are more obscure. Ewe, for example, is a tonal language spoken among Congolese employees.

In fact, the company’s GEA Connect internal communication platform was built with language translation in mind. The platform text automatically translates into a user's native language settings.

Ensuring language isn't a barrier to finding valuable employees has gone a long way to solving two issues at once -- refugees need good jobs and GEA needs talent. 

About the Author

Adrienne Selko | Senior Editor

Focus: Workforce, Talent 

Follow Me on Twitter: @ASelkoIW

Bio: Adrienne Selko has written about many topics over the 17 years she has been with the publication and currently focuses on workforce development strategies. Previously Adrienne was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck? which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics and EHS Today

Editorial mission statement: Manufacturing is the enviable position of creating products, processes and policies that solve the world’s problems. When the industry stepped up to manufacture what was necessary to combat the pandemic, it revealed its true nature. My goal is to showcase the sector’s ability to address a broad range of workforce issues including technology, training, diversity & inclusion, with a goal of enticing future generations to join this amazing sector.

Why I find manufacturing interesting: On my first day working for a company that made medical equipment such as MRIs, I toured the plant floor. On every wall was a photo of a person, mostly children. I asked my supervisor why this was the case and he said that the work we do at this company has saved these people’s lives. “We never forget how important our work is and everyone’s contribution to that.” From that moment on I was hooked on manufacturing.

I have talked with many people in this field who have transformed their own career development to assist others. For example, companies are hiring those with disabilities, those previously incarcerated and other talent pools that have been underutilized. I have talked with leaders who have brought out the best in their workforce, as well as employees doing their best work while doing good for the world. 

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