Matching seasonal workers with employers in the United States is a rewarding experience for Philip woman
Matching seasonal workers, mostly agricultural related, with employers has become not only a business, but a rewarding experience for Trudie Klopper of Philip, SD.
Klopper, a native of South Africa, came to Philip when her husband Dr. Coen Klopper accepted a job at Philip Health Services. The couple and their family had previously been in Canada where her husband had been a physician. She had been an attorney in South Africa, before the family moved to Canada.
Klooper got her start in her new venture when she heard about a group of South African workers who had been stranded in Nebraska. She became involved and found jobs for the workers.
That experience gave rise to Klopper’s business, International Labor Connexion, LLC. The focus of the business is to partner United States employers needing seasonal employees with qualified workers from foreign nations in need of jobs.
Klopper works through two Visa programs. The H2B program is for non-agricultural positions. Klopper noted many of the workers for this program come from the countries of Argentina, Ja-maica, Romania, Australia, and India. This program involves positions in hospitality, construction, processing, manufacturing, as-sembly, and other similar jobs. The H2A program, which is Klopper’s main focus, is agricultural-based. Many of the employees for this program come from South Africa. Klopper noted that many farmers in South Africa have had a number of years of drought, and to save the family farm, many are fourth and fifth generation farms, people have turned to finding jobs abroad.
“I find South African workers excellent for farms and ranches,” said Klopper. “Many of these people have their own farms and have good experience in this field.” She added, “Since most of the South African workers grew up on farms, they have a strong background in agriculture and a strong work ethic.”
Klopper explained the program is for seasonal workers only. They can stay in America for up to 10 months. She added many em-ployees return to the same em-ployer in following years. Klopper said she stresses to the prospective employees that the program is not for travel, but for those who truly wish to work. She noted many of the employees send the majority of their money back home. The money is used to improve their farm, send a child to higher education, or to allow themselves a chance for higher education.
In South Africa and Indone-sia, Klopper has an agent to represent her company. The agents recruit workers, do background checks and arrange travel needs. “It is amazing to see how many people want to come and work in America,” said Klopper. She added many of the residents in the countries she works with are very poor, and our minimum wage is a lot of money to them. In some cases, Klopper said, the exchange rate is favorable to the other country.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of paperwork involved in bringing workers to America. Fortunately for the U.S. employers, Klopper does all the paperwork.
According to Klopper each employer has to prove to the labor department that there is a need for their business to import workers. To do this they have to prove that there are no available or qualified people in their area. The company, farmer, or rancher must advertise for the position and interview any or all applicants. Once they prove there are no available or qualified people, the labor department will issue them a labor certificate. Klopper does all the advertising, recruitment reports and applications for work permits. The work permits are applied for through the Bureau of Citizen Immigra-tion Services. If BCIS approves the permits, they are sent to the foreign country where the consulate interviews potential workers. Once the consulate ap-proves the worker, he/she is issued a visa to come to the United States.
When an employer hires Klopper, he gives her a list of requirements or skills needed to her. She then matches a worker to that employer. The employer has a choice of approving the selection, of choosing the people themselves, and visiting with the potential worker through a telephonic inter-view, or the employer can have Klopper arrange an in-person meeting in the the worker’s home country.
Klopper places people all across the United States. She said she has placed people as far east as Maryland, as far west as New Mexico, and as far south as Oklahoma. Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana are the states where she has placed the most workers. She noted that in Nebraska, one employer had 20 foreign employees. She does try to visit the employers, especially the larger ones, to see how the match is working. This also allows her to get to know the employer better and makes it easier to place workers.
Klopper does screen employers through an interview process. “You can find out so much through their questions and their tone of voice,” stated Klopper. “The way they act and come across during our talks tells a lot of what they are like.” She added that her employers are very considerate.
She noted she has not had any problems with any matches. Even though all the workers speak English, their accents sometimes makes them slightly harder to understand. “People are so adaptable,” said Klopper. “It is amazing.” She added it excites her when she sees the bond that is established between an employer and employee. “The experience is enriching for both,” stated Klopper.
Klopper said they have more employees then ever looking for jobs. She said the advantages for employers using her company are that they recruit and screen all employees, process all paperwork, and offer support to both the em-ployer and employee. She noted that all starting and ending dates are flexible. Her company, she said, ensures a stable workforce for an employer’s peak season and it is a cost-effective way to ensure employees for the season.
Klopper said, “International Labor Connexion’s specialization stems from the desire to widen the scope of possibilites for qualified, hard-working individuals in countries with faltering economies. By lending a helping hand to such skilled men and women, ILC’s services also aid the U.S. and global economy.”
Klopper stressed her company does all the paperwork, because she knows men do not like to do paperwork. Klopper can be contacted by phone at 605-859-2490.