Rose, a South Sudanese refugee and Adecco US associate, landed in Ohio with few job prospects, despite her motivation. But thanks to upskilling and reskilling help, she’s been able to advance to a higher-paying position – where she will be able to train and supervise other African associates in their native languages. Rose’s story is one of survival, strength, initiative, commitment, inclusion and yes – success.

For 18 years of her life, Rose lived at the Kakuma refugee camp. The Kakuma refugee camp was established in 1992 following the arrival of “Lost Boys of Sudan” – a group of over 20,000 boys of the Nuer and Dinka ethnic groups who were displaced or orphaned during the Second Sudanese Civil War. Millions of others were killed, and even more were severely affected by the conflict. As of January 2021, the camp was still home to more than 160,000 refugees from South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Ethiopia, and Uganda. It is in one of the poorest counties in Kenya.


When Rose landed in Ohio in 2016, she didn’t have much: she couldn’t drive, and she struggled to find work to support her family.


She took the bus to her day labour job each day, hoping there might be some work – any work – but, often she would only be offered work a few days a week.


Rose says her “spirit told [her] that something good would happen in the future and to keep working hard until opportunity came again,” so she never gave up. She had endured so much just to land in Ohio in 2016, and her journey to the US wasn’t easy.


In April 2017, Adecco took over the account and hired Rose as an associate, where she has been ever since. Rose started as a packer on the line and soon became a line trainer, teaching others how to make boxes on the line.


This job site is home to immigrants from around the world, including – the Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, and many other African countries. Rose was able to interact with these associates because she speaks 12 native African languages – yes, 12. As a trainer, Rose said she quickly identified that she needed to “create friendships with [her] black and white American co-workers so [she] could learn to speak better English.” These friendships would help not only her to only advance, but also allow her to become a bridge between the diverse cultures, so others could advance, too.

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Rose asked to move to a more diverse area in the facility, where she would be able to speak to and interact with more people with different backgrounds. This way, Rose would be able to expand her English skills and job skills.


Rose then went from the packing line to being a housekeeper, a kitter, a tagger, a coder and then a team lead. Now, Rose is being upskilled to be an OSHA-certified forklift trainer. The Adecco US Foundation funds the upskilling of candidates and associates into OSHA-certified forklift operators and/or trainers through a partnership between the US’s Risk Management Team and the Adecco field program leadership teams.


These programs then continue to pay it forward by allowing certified trainers, like Rose, to go on and certify more associates into higher-paying, and much needed, skilled labor positions.


Ever since Rose started at Adecco, it’s become a family affair for the mother of six. Two of Rose’s sons have worked at the site, and her daughter too is an Adecco associate at the site as well. Rose has another son in Texas who joined the U.S. Marine Corps, and another son back in Africa who remains Africa heavily involved in relief efforts in their native country of South Sudan.


Rose qualified for this upskilling opportunity because of her unique ability to reach and inspire so many other associates. With the upskilling opportunity, Rose can advance to a higher-paying position – where she will be able to train and supervise other African associates in their native languages. In South Sudan alone there are over 60 indigenous language spoken. Her goal also includes helping these associates learn English.


The associate also receives calls from the Adecco staff asking for advice on how to best communicate certain things to associates. The language learning goes both ways for Rose: she is currently teaching two Adecco supervisors, Quentin, and Jay, how to speak Swahili.


Others at the job site appreciate Rose’s presence and her leadership. When you ask others at the site what they think about Rose, these are the words that you will inevitably hear: amazing, kind, friend to all, great leader, role model, amazing human, and remarkable woman.


Her dedication to helping her fellow workers extends beyond their working hours, too. Rose says that associates who either don’t speak English well, or don’t speak it at all, reach out to her outside of work hours to ask her advice on how to communicate their needs, wants, concerns with Adecco and/or with others.


“I want to help those who cannot yet speak English well and ensure that they too will have more opportunities, just like I have,” Rose said.


Rose said that she knows that they are afraid to try to speak English, or feel that they can’t learn English, and she always tells them: “Don’t say you CAN’T do it, say you NEED TO do it.”

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