Refugee Recertification - Upwardly Global Policy Program


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Presentation to the RefugeeWorks conference on refugee professional pathways held June 22-23 2009 in East Lansing, MI

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  • Joined UPGLO as Policy program in late 2008 “ Street cred” with you – Match Grant Coordinator for 96-98 @ Lansing’s Refugee Services 2 Minutes
  • Social entrepreneurial nonprofit. We make the business case for integration of permanently work-authorized immigrant professionals to employers and policymakers; we train and counsel immigrants as they seek a 1 st professional placement in their fields We’ve engaged over 800 volunteers across 3 cities along the way
  • Direct Services Outcomes: $45,000 average salary in first US professional placement $25,000 average salary increase from survival job High retention, high naturalization Policy: to document issues slowing integration of immigrant professionals, and to identify and promote systemic solutions in areas including professional licensing, workforce training, employer recruitment and public perception
  • Dominant immigration discourse has only 2 ends to the continuum: low-skilled, undocumented workers; high-skilled H1-B visa holders Huge ‘brain waste’ of immigrant presence! 1.3 m or 23.6% of US LPR immigrants compared to 7.6% of native US (MPI) This is our target: LPR/refugee/asylee; fewer than 5 years in US; BA/BS or higher + professional experience in home country; developing countries, advanced English Refugees – about 1/3 of our current jobseekers; rest are asylees, LPRs through family reunification or diversity visa While hard to assess numbers in licensed professions, poll of recent Upwardly Global jobseekers = 50% in 12 licensed professions
  • So you are probably asking yourself, if this talent pool is so great, what keeps them out of the US workforce? Why don ’ t companies just snap them all up? Here are the most commonly cited ‘universal’ barriers – by that, I mean this is true for immigrants in both unregulated and regulated careers Job Search Customs – self-promotion is tough for them, most cultures value modesty Lack of Network – people rely heavily on referrals in this job market Employers Lack a channel to a pipeline of candidates; they don ’ t understand how to evaluate credentials or foreign experience, misperception of visa status
  • Bureaucratic, slow, and expensive processes. Licensing for most professional fields involves long, difficult timelines and high costs that most new immigrants and refugees cannot afford – no credit! Survival jobs! Documents, contacts unavailable. Lack of transparency/Reqs vary by state. Licensing is regulated at the state level with multiple professional agencies involved. Processes vary state by state and there is no centralized information source to explain or clarify the licensing process specifically for foreign-educated professionals across states. The result -- for US and foreign-educated professionals alike -- is confusion, misinformation, reduced licensing rates and decreased mobility for practicing professionals. Foreign credentials don't fit the regulator mold.   Immigrant professionals must often repeat coursework in the US at extra time and expense because their education system differs in its curriculum progression or in the documentation it maintains.  Lack of bridge programs to speed career reintegration. Few educational programs exist specifically to help experienced immigrant professionals reintegrate to their same careers. Efforts to increase the licensed workforce through fast-track programs (nursing programs in many states have been innovative in this regard) still may fall short in acknowledging advanced standing of immigrants with non-US education and experience. Institutional supports to encourage program completion can also fall short. Influential professional organizations may oppose streamlining of licensing for foreign-educated immigrants. In some fields, professional associations can slow integration of foreign-educated immigrants, citing concerns over uniformity of education and skill and fears of a negative impact on public health and safety if these immigrants circumvent any existing steps, although another consequence of limited licensing is the maintenance of higher levels of scarcity and higher wages
  • Executive Order - Illinois new Americans <10yrs in US: (57% of state’s highly-educated Latin American residents work in unskilled jobs, 24% of Asians – 18% native born) California figures: 44% Latin Americans, 24% Asians, 22% Africans and 17% native born) Access: the Governor’s Office, Department of Human Services, and the Department of Professional Regulation Research underway includes focus groups, surveys and key stakeholder interviews Licensing/credentialing attracting additional interest: state of Illinois, private foundation $, Migration Policy Institute
  • Narrow focus: specific audience, specific professions Licensing in context – from first prerequisites Alternative career pathways – for those on long-term licensing path (upgrade from a survival job) or who cannot/do not wish to license at same professional level Standardization = topic order, features (maps, scenarios, references) Proven advice (limit links in main body to official agencies; not create forum where misinformation can spread) Easy to understand – not a ‘dumbing down’, but more cues for ELL (visuals, incl. videos; limiting off-site navigation; words and acronyms) Low-maintenance (limited moderation necessary; cyclical updates of info) Data collection – survey incentive – site improvement and licensing barrier research
  • Pilot: marketing, adjusting design, considering new features (success stories, HM interviews, blog, ESL)
  • Email poll on barriers to licensing – please sign up and I’ll include you. Caveat! Licensing differs by state!
  • 30 Minutes Refer to Reference Materials
  • Refugee Recertification - Upwardly Global Policy Program

    1. 1. Upwardly Global Partnerships for Workforce Integration of Immigrant Professionals Jennifer Perez-Brennan Policy Manager June 2009
    2. 2. Who We Are <ul><ul><li>Upwardly Global is a national nonprofit with offices in San Francisco, New York, and Chicago </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Helping immigrant professionals rebuild their careers in the US and helping employers understand and tap into this hidden talent pool </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Support: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Foundations, social investors, corporate partnerships, State of Illinois </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. 3-Part Solution <ul><ul><li>Jobseeker Services Program: Job search workshops, resume revision, volunteer mentorship, and staff support over a 6-month period </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Employer Network Program: Education and resources for employers to successfully integrate immigrants into the workplace </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Policy and Systemic Change Initiatives Program: Partnerships across sectors in workforce training, employer recruitment and public policy to promote the economic integration of immigrant professionals </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. The Status Quo <ul><li>At any given time in the United States there are 1.3 Million work-authorized, college-educated immigrant professionals who are unemployed or earn less than $19,800/year </li></ul><ul><li>- Migration Policy Institute, Uneven Progress </li></ul>Daria, Mongolia Broadcast Journalist Barista Jonas, Cameroon Attorney Security Guard Alicia, Mexico, EE, PhD Fruit stand clerk Sylvia, Peru Biologist Welfare-to-work
    5. 5. Universal Barriers to Workforce Re-entry <ul><ul><li>Unfamiliarity with US job search and customs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of professional networks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>US employers unaware of qualified candidates or how to access them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>English language skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discrimination based on gender, religion, national origin, accent </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Licensing-Specific Barriers <ul><ul><li>Bureaucratic, slow, and expensive ($$$) processes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of transparency and centralized information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Licensing requirements vary by state </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Foreign credentials don't fit the regulator mold </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of accelerated/bridge programs to speed career reintegration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Influential professional organizations may oppose streamlined licensing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> Immigrants must be able to make informed decisions about licensing and its professional alternatives </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Policy Program Close-up: Professional Licensing in Illinois <ul><li>Partnership with IL Office of New Americans: </li></ul><ul><li>Website explaining licensing process to foreign-educated professionals in popular regulated professions </li></ul><ul><li>Research and reporting on barriers </li></ul><ul><li>Upwardly Global access to decision-makers and experts across state agencies </li></ul><ul><li> Scalable project: now seeking partnerships in other states </li></ul>
    8. 8. <ul><li>Targeted audience and professions </li></ul><ul><li>Licensing in context </li></ul><ul><li>Alternative pathways </li></ul><ul><li>Standardized information and proven advice </li></ul><ul><li>Easy to understand </li></ul><ul><li>Easy to maintain </li></ul><ul><li>Data collection tool </li></ul>Careers for New Americans Site Concept and Considerations
    9. 9. Careers for New Americans Promotional Materials
    10. 10. How You Can Support This Work! <ul><li>Visit and share your feedback </li></ul><ul><li>Sign-up for email updates </li></ul><ul><li>Connect us to partners in your state </li></ul><ul><li>Refer refugee professionals </li></ul>
    11. 11. How You Can Support Jobseekers Trained in Regulated Professions <ul><ul><li>Survival jobs are necessary – so are plans to leave them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Immigrants must be able to make informed decisions weighing licensing against other professional alternatives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify transferrable skills, contextualize foreign ed + experience in résumé </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Market existing education and discourage collection of unnecessary/inferior US credentials </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Encourage networking, volunteerism, internships </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Build volunteer base: low-pain events (mock interviews, networking sessions); identify and orient career mentors </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Success Stories Kahder, Benin Management Analyst $50K, BearingPoint Alicia, Mexico Post-Doc Research Assoc. $60K, Lawrence Livermore Labs Mai, Vietnam Internal Med. Resident $35K, Coney Island Hospital
    13. 13. Contact Information Jennifer Perez-Brennan [email_address] 330 S. Wells, Suite 204 Chicago, IL 60606 T: 312.431.1923