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Asian group woos recruits

Elected officials, community leaders, business owners and job seekers congregate to mark the launch of a new workforce development program. Photo courtesy Asian Americans for Equality
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Asian Americans for Equality, a citywide nonprofit, launched a program to connect job seekers with Flushing businesses in need of skilled workers last week.

The workforce development program will use a two-pronged approach in which it will recruit a pool of workers and then help place them with an employer.

“A lot of the businesses in Flushing have problems filling their labor needs,” said Peter Cheng, the program’s director. “They cannot really assess how good a person is when they just have a brief interview. We can help businesses to reach their labor needs by screening the job seekers.”

In a 2012 Flushing One survey of 300 businesses, more than half of respondents said finding skilled and bilingual workers was a leading challenge for them.

Cheng said employment problems are exacerbated in Flushing because the neighborhood’s many new immigrants have trouble adjusting and lack a network to rely on.

“They have cultural barriers and might not be saying the right things at job interviews,” he said.

The program’s coordinators will spend time getting to know each job seeker in order to help them address weaknesses and adjust culturally.

“A lot of Asian immigrants don’t like to look people in the eye when they talk. In Asia it can be considered an aggressive move,” Cheng said. “We have to explain to them this isn’t something you want to do in America.”

The program will also help with job searches, writing résumés and interview techniques.

“If they are a good match, we’ll place them,” Cheng said.

Dian Wu, president of the Flushing Business Improvement District, has been looking to hire an assistant for months, but has had trouble finding a worker with the right skills who will work part time.

“We have limited resources. In today’s world, where jobs are very demanding, the bar has been set very high. There are a lot of people vying for jobs. That’s a double-edged sword as I want to look for good talent, but I’m not paying good money. So it’s hard for me to retain talent,” he said.

Wu said he plans to take full advantage of Cheng’s program in order to find someone.

“I’m hoping he’ll be able to use his expertise, experience and network that will help me find the candidate to fit,” Wu said.

The program will not stop at placement as it will monitor employees’ progress up to a year after they have been employed, said Cheng.

“We will make sure they are happy and the employer is happy,” he said.

The program is being funded by the Robin Hood Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to help New Yorkers in need.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Posted 12:00 am, December 13, 2013
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Reader feedback

Enough from Queens says:
If immigrants, illegal and legal do not like it here, they are free to leave. Enough of their wanting to join our welfare state and be given jobs on silver platters.
Dec. 13, 2013, 10:44 am
A regular New Yorker from Queens says:
The mean-spirit attitude of Enough For Queens is uncalled for. The program serves all New Yorkers, immigrant or native born. In this recession times, it is sorely needed. We should welcome it and thank Robin Hood for funding it.
Dec. 17, 2013, 4:07 pm

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