IMPRINT: Immigrant Professional Integration

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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