IMPRINT: Immigrant Professional Integration

Author Archive

WES Welcomes Veteran National Policy Advocate Jacki Esposito

From left, Jacki Esposito joined with Stacey Simon, senior director of strategic partnerships and policy at WES, Fatima Sanz, policy strategist, and Mike Zimmer, policy consultant.

Jacki Esposito is the new U.S. policy and advocacy director at WES Global Talent Bridge. In this role, Jacki also serves as director of the IMPRINT Coalition and is responsible for deepening WES’ alliances and advancing its U.S. policy agenda in support of immigrants and refugees.

Jacki continues the work of Stacey K. Simon, who as senior director of strategic partnerships and policy now oversees WES’ policy work and strategic partnerships.

“I am delighted to be joining World Education Services and working alongside our IMPRINT partners,” Jacki says. “Our job is to build momentum and accelerate progress on federal, state, and local policy reforms which seek to ensure that immigrants and refugees have every opportunity to succeed.”

Jacki has worked with non-profit advocacy groups and philanthropic organizations in the United States, Europe, and Canada. In the U.S., she led the immigration policy and advocacy efforts of both the New York Immigration Coalition and Detention Watch Network. She has been a media spokesperson on a broad array of immigration issues. She has served on the boards and steering committees of national and local organizations, including New Women New Yorkers, a non-profit organization that provides workforce development programming to empower immigrant women in their efforts to obtain meaningful employment or pursue higher education.

Jacki holds a bachelor’s degree in the administration of justice from Roger Williams University and a juris doctor from New York Law School. She practiced law at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and later served as a public defender at the Legal Aid Society.

“Under Jacki’s leadership, WES and IMPRINT will drive transformative change at the national, state, and local levels to re-envision a workforce development system that ensures equal access to high-quality jobs for the millions of immigrants and refugees in the U.S. workforce and moves the U.S. toward more inclusive economic growth,” says Paul Feltman, deputy executive director at WES and chair of IMPRINT. “We are thrilled that she’s come aboard at this critical time for all new Americans.”

The 2019 Policy Year in Review

Nevada Governor Sisolak signing SB538, creating the Offfice for New Americans in the Office of the Governor.

As the new year begins, a look back at progress in the arena of skilled immigrant integration over the past 12 months yields impressive and promising results. Our partners made great strides in shaping key policy decisions impacting the economic integration of immigrants and their ability to contribute to the communities where they live. Across the country, states enacted new laws and policies – on a bipartisan basis – to lower barriers to employment for immigrants and refugees.

In 2019, a dozen states—Massachusetts, Vermont, California, Colorado, Maine, Oregon, Arkansas, Indiana, Washington, Alabama, Georgia, and Minnesota—passed state laws aimed at removing barriers to employment for immigrants. And two states, New Jersey and Nevada, took steps to establish new statewide Offices of New Americans.

Reflecting on key policy developments in 2019, here are some notable trends:

As in previous years, a primary focus among states was lowering barriers to employment for internationally-trained medical professionals, in an effort to address provider shortages and disparities in access to high-quality healthcare. Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Washington all passed laws to remove obstacles for immigrants to put their skills and training to use in the healthcare sector. These range from creating bodies to evaluate licensing requirements for international medical graduates (Massachusetts and Washington) to addressing the licensing of internationally-trained nurses (Alabama and Indiana).

States increasingly took steps in 2019 to ensure equitable access to occupational licenses more generally for internationally-trained professionals. Maine, Oregon, and Vermont led the way in passing new laws to explore how to reduce unnecessary barriers to licensure for immigrants and refugees with international credentials.

Lastly, Nevada and New Jersey joined the growing list of states committed to strengthening statewide support and coordination of immigrant and refugee initiatives through Offices of New Americans. These states join California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Colorado, and Washington in the nation’s first national Office of New Americans (ONA) network – a coalition of states bound together by a commitment to better serve newcomers to the U.S. WES Global Talent Bridge and New American Economy have partnered to coordinate the ONA network, which covers a range of immigrant and refugee issues including economic integration, access to legal services, and humanitarian concerns.

We also saw progress on immigrant integration at the federal level in 2019, with the introduction of a comprehensive integration bill, H.R. 4928, the New Deal for New Americans Act, in the U.S. House of Representatives. This wide-ranging legislation seeks to expand access to citizenship; promote immigrants’ social, economic, and civic integration; and invest in legal services for immigrants and refugees. The measure also directs the establishment of a National Office of New Americans and sets an annual minimum admissions number of 110,000 for refugee resettlement. While congressional gridlock makes the future of this bill uncertain, the measure offers a promising vision for national immigrant integration policy.

Building on the momentum of 2019, 2020 already holds many opportunities to advance the economic integration of immigrants and refugees. Pending bills in both Virginia and Pennsylvania would establish an Office of New Americans, and a bill in California seeks to build upon the role of the current Statewide Director of Immigrant Integration by creating a cabinet-level Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs. In Massachusetts, pending legislation would reduce barriers to occupational licensure for immigrants and promote workforce training and business development. The Alaska legislature is considering a bill to establish clear guidelines for the licensing of internationally-trained physical therapists, and legislation in Minnesota  would support efforts to recognize the international credentials of immigrant professionals of African origin.

In the year ahead, we will continue to work with our state and national partners to advance new policies and initiatives to strengthen economic opportunities for immigrants and refugees. To stay informed about the latest policy updates, check out the IMPRINT Policy Map which tracks pending and enacted state and federal legislation impacting economic immigrant integration.

IMPRINT Program Map Network Q4 2019 Updates

Upcoming Events you might be interested in attending:

AACC Workforce Development Institute 2020 Conference, January 22-25, Amelia Island, FL; Registration ends 12/30:

GCIR Annual Convening, March 11-13, Atlanta, GA; Early bird registration ends 12/31

National Skills Coalition Skills Summit, February 3-5, Washington, DC

The Forum by NAWB, March 21-24, Washington, DC

Webinars for practitioners who work with skilled immigrants:

Identifying Job Opportunities and Career Pathways: Tools and Resources WES Global Talent Bridge joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the National Immigration Forum in a webinar where each organization shared different practical and interactive tools including our Career Pathways e-guides.

Tapping Global Talent: Career Pathways for Internationally Trained Engineers in the U.S. This webinar discusses best practices for tapping the potential of internationally trained immigrants and creating career options that optimize their unique skills.

Can Immigrant Professionals Help Reduce Teaching Shortages in the U.S.? This webinar presents findings from WES Global Talent Bridge’s report, “Can Immigrant Professionals Help Reduce Teaching Shortages in the U.S.?” and discusses efforts to streamline pathways to teaching.

Upskilling the U.S. Labor Force: Mapping the Credentials of Immigrant-Origin Workers This webinar analyzes the 30 million immigrant adults who lack a post-secondary credential. It highlights the importance of credentials in relation to workforce participation and wages. It is related to MPI’s report titled “Credentials for the Future: Mapping the Potential for Immigrant-Origin Adults in the United States.”

A Mirror for the Nation? The Changing Profile of Mexican Immigrants in Texas This is an audio and video recording of an event at the Migration Policy Institute, featuring a discussion from experts at MPI and Southern Methodist University’s Texas-Mexico Center. The discussion presents an overview of trends and characteristics of highly skilled Mexican immigrants in Texas and opportunities to address brain waste. The panelists explore causes behind the trends and implications for integration policies and programs.

WES Global Talent Bridge Resources for your clients:

Career Pathways Guides

Our career pathways guides provide resources and guidance to help internationally trained immigrants seeking to use their education in seven industries, including Dentistry, Allied Health, Information Technology, Pharmacy, Architecture, Accounting, Engineering, Teaching, and Nursing.

– On-demand webinars

Getting Your Professional Engineering License: What Internationally Trained Professionals Need to Know This webinar describes the stages and requirements for licensing and explains how to approach credential evaluation, and it includes practical advice on how immigrant engineers can work with state boards and experts from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) to create a plan for their licensing journey while gaining work experience.

How to Build Your Career as an Internationally Trained Accountant in the U.S. This webinar focuses on how immigrant and refugee professionals can develop a meaningful career while completing licensing requirements in the field of accounting.

Employment Resources: Preparing for your Job Search In this webinar, our guest speaker from Upwardly Global covers comprehensive resources through the Jobversity platform, including practical tools that incorporate the employer perspective to help internationally trained immigrants prepare their professional portfolio.

Research from the field of skilled immigrant integration:

Physician Supply and Demand A 15-Year Outlook: Key Findings This report includes key findings from the fifth annual study conducted by the Life Science division of HIS Markit titled ‘The Complexities of Physician Supply and Demand: Projections from 2017-2032.’ These findings include a projected shortage of both primary and specialty care by 2032 of between 46,900 and 121,900 physicians. Coupled with this is an additional shortage of 95,900 doctors if heath care use patterns were equalized across race, insurance coverage, and geography. The report also speaks to the main reasons driving these physician shortages and highlights the outcomes of some emerging health delivery trends designed to improve overall population health.

Expanding Eligibility for Professional and Occupational Licensing for Immigrants The President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration released a report thatt “provides an overview of the need to expand professional, business, and commercial licenses (also known as “occupational licenses”) to various work-authorized immigrants.” including DACA recipients, TSP holders, DED recipients, and immigrants with EADs. The report provides 5 policy recommendations to expand eligibility, yet protect the integrity of the licensing process.

NAE Cities Index The NAE Cities Index evaluates local policies and socioeconomic factors to determine how cities are performing in their effort to integrate immigrant populations.

Guide to Learning About Local Workforce Systems This guide defines what local workforce systems are, how they work, and how they connect stakeholders and facilitate collaboration. It provides an overview of organizations and activities in the workforce system that help workers and employers. The guide can also be used as a tool for mayoral staff, service providers, and national intermediaries in understanding workforce systems, facilitating partnership, and strategic development.

Key findings about U.S. immigrants  This research provides updated statistics about the foreign-born population residing in the United States. It also includes some historical trends since 1960 and answers key questions about the immigrant population.

Recently arrived U.S. immigrants, growing in number, differ from long-term residents This research demonstrates several differences between shorter and longer tenured U.S. immigrants that have changed over time. It highlights trends in educational attainment, unemployment rates, earnings, English proficiency, and ethnicity.

State Immigration Data Profiles The Migration Policy Institute’s State Immigration Data Profiles contain the most up to date data about immigrants and the native born population in the United States, including brain waste.

What a waste: Ensure migrants and refugees’ qualifications and prior learning are recognized This paper offers examples of OECD countries that have made progress toward the recognition of qualifications of prior learning, including special provisions for migrants and refugees. It argues that migrants need to have their academic credentials recognized so that they can find meaningful employment at the right levels, especially for migrants and refugees who cannot prove their academic qualifications. The paper looks at various recognition systems across the world, and ways they assess skills and competencies. It calls on improvements to policy across countries to address the displaced population. It also offers examples of countries that have made policy amendments (Portugal), toolkits (Norway), fee waivers (Belgium), a European Qualifications Passport for Refugees (Norway & the UK), mutual recognition arrangements across specific occupations (ASEAN), digital technologies (Arizona), and other steps to reflect refugees’ needs. Furthermore, the paper provides data about the size of brain waste around the world. The paper concludes with a push for collective action across global, national, state, and local regions and capacity building at the regional and national level.

Why the Foreign-Born Population in the Midwest has Skyrocketed This article cites research highlighting the migration of highly skilled immigrants to the Midwest. It showcases examples of Midwestern cities that have interesting models for immigrant-facilitating projects.

Far fewer Mexican immigrants are coming to the US – and those who do are more educated This article argues that there is evidence that Mexicans migrating to the U.S. today are significantly different than their counterparts making the move more than a decade ago.  Recent Mexican migrants tend to have a higher level of education and a greater fluency in English. A higher percentage are U.S. naturalized citizens. Mexico is undergoing a significant demographic shift that will result in an aging population and workforce, as well as a significant technological transformation that is associated with a growing number of Mexicans in science and technology fields.

Lessons from WES Global Talent Bridge research in Canada:

– An Addendum to “A Way Forward for Refugees: Findings from the WES Pilot Project”

The addendum summarizes data on outcomes collected from Syrian refugees who participated in the refugee pilot project. The survey focused on the clients’ experience in the program and the usefulness of the credential evaluation report, given the respondents’ career or education goals. The link will give you access to the original, Full Report, as well as the Executive Summary, both published in 2018, and the Addendum, published in early September 2019.

How the WES Mariam Assefa Fund Aims to Inspire Effective Policy

Monica Munn, senior director of the WES Mariam Assefa Fund, with staff members of Mission Driven Finance in San Diego, CA.

In September the WES Mariam Assefa Fund awarded $1.2 million to promote economic opportunities and advancement for immigrants and refugees in the U.S.

The first round of grantees includes The Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation; Jobs for the Future; Mission Driven Finance; Upwardly Global; and the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians. The new grantee partners are leading a range of initiatives that focus on employer practice models, promoting entrepreneurship and leadership within immigrant and refugee communities, and innovative finance models to support adult education and workforce development training for immigrants and refugees.

According to Monica Munn, senior director of the fund, a key goal of this first round of grantmaking is to create more data about the types of interventions that work and can serve as models the public sector can support. She noted that employer engagement is also an important focal point for the fund, as is support for blended social finance models leveraging both private and public funds.

Munn emphasized that the Mariam Assefa Fund will share data and key learning over the coming year from these initial grant-funded efforts. Looking ahead, the fund is exploring workforce development and adult education initiatives that support skills-building and economic mobility for immigrant and refugee workers. A second wave of awards to new initiatives is anticipated next year.

Nicole Pumphrey, deputy director of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians and fund grantee, echoed the need for more data to determine where public and private investments will be most impactful. Pumphrey noted that, increasingly, policymakers have acknowledged the need to take steps to ensure internationally trained immigrants and refugees in their communities have equitable access to workforce development training and English language instruction. The next step, according to Pumphrey, is to identify where investments should be made in order to better integrate immigrants into the workforce.

With support from the fund, the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians will continue its work with the city of Philadelphia on a fellowship program recently expanded to include immigrants and refugees with training or credentials obtained outside the U.S. The results have been impressive so far. Of the 21 participants over the past two years, all have secured professional-level employment and one third of participants are employed full-time by the city department where they completed their fellowships.

The local government in Louisville, Ky. has adopted a similar model as part of its work with Global Talent Bridge’s Skilled Immigrant Integration Program.

The fund’s heightened focus on employer engagement is especially crucial in light of the scarcity of funding to support immigrants and refugees and the range of barriers they face. In an article last month, Inside Philanthropy recognized the vital importance of the fund as a newcomer to philanthropy and pointed to the need to increase awareness among employers, funders, and the broader workforce development field of the unique needs of immigrants and refugees seeking to reenter the workforce.

Suzette Masters, immigration strategist and longtime leader in the field also welcomed a greater emphasis on increasing employer engagement and stressed the need to strengthen advocacy efforts to remove barriers to employment for immigrants and refugees with international training to expand talent pipelines, particularly at the state and local level.

WES Global Talent Bridge will share updates as information becomes available. A WES Mariam Assefa Fund mailing list has been set up for those who wish to subscribe.

New Books Feature Community Colleges’ Impact on Skilled Immigrant Integration

Community colleges can be critical gateways for many immigrants and refugees looking to gain an economic foothold in the labor market and integrate into the social fabric of their communities. That includes many of the almost 7.5 million immigrants in the U.S. who arrive with a four-year degree and often years of professional experience earned outside the country.

Two new books from Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education (CCCIE) include chapters by Jeff Gross, a policy consultant working with WES Global Talent Bridge.

Working toward an Equitable and Prosperous Future for All: How Community Colleges and Immigrants Are Changing America and Working Together: How Community Colleges and Their Partners Help Immigrants Succeed showcase a wide range of initiatives of CCCIE member community colleges and their partners working together at local and state levels to integrate immigrants from many different backgrounds and different levels of education.

“These new books present best-practice models and case studies of how these institutions can help internationally-trained immigrants succeed and thrive in the U.S., whether working in their original careers or in new professions,” says Gross. “They share innovative and practical models of change with an emphasis on what makes programs work as well as the challenges they face. We are proud to be a contributor to these volumes and a long-time partner with CCCIE in promoting the success and contributions of immigrant professionals.”

In the first of these volumes, Working toward an Equitable and Prosperous Future for All, Gross surveys the career and academic barriers facing skilled immigrants and the role that community college-based programs and sector-based partnerships can play in advancing this important and growing segment of the country’s workforce. With their wide-ranging for-credit and certificate programs in in-demand occupations, commitment to serving diverse and non-traditional students, established collaborations with local employers and other workforce stakeholders, and experience combining state, federal and philanthropic funding streams, community colleges provide a uniquely well-positioned launchpad for such initiatives.

Among the best-practice models examined are the Foreign-Trained Professionals Program at Miami Dade College; the multi-state Welcome Back Initiative (an IMPRINT coalition partner), focusing on immigrant healthcare professionals; the Skilled Immigrant Apprenticeship program overseen by the Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare; and WES’s Skilled Immigrant Integration Program, which supports regional immigrant integration networks where community colleges often play a key role.

In the second volume, Working Together, the chapter on “Foreign-Trained Talent for Local Jobs: The Skilled Immigrant Project at Howard Community College” provides a case-study of how one community college in Maryland has built a long-term, flexible partnership with employers and local non-profits to train skilled immigrants to fill in-demand jobs as healthcare interpreters and entry-level bank employees, and to create career pathways into accounting.

Together, these two chapters offer community college leaders and their allies a roadmap to more effectively meeting the career and academic needs of internationally-trained immigrants and supporting their contributions to local economies and communities.

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