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How can Pittsburgh do more for immigrant integration?

Wednesday October 25, 2017 | by Debra Means-West

In September the Change Agency, a Pittsburgh-based social enterprise, hosted an inaugural summit for its flagship project, All for All. Guided by Allegheny County’s Immigrant Community Blueprint, this full-day event brought together workforce development practitioners, adult educators, elected officials, and members of the business community to discuss how Pittsburgh and its surrounding communities can more fully integrate immigrants economically and socially.

To kick off the event, guest speakers discussed immigrant issues through the lenses of policy, research, and data. Rich Andre, Associate Director for State and Local Initiatives, New American Economy (NAE), shared local data compiled by NAE on the contributions and impacts of Pittsburgh’s immigrants. NAE’s data found that immigrants make up 3.4 percent of Pittsburgh’s metro population and 6.3 percent of the city’s professional, scientific, and technical services sector.

The summit’s breakout sessions covered a range of topics, including:

  • Addressing Brain Drain
  • Leveraging International Talent
  • Designing Immigrant-Inclusive Programming

In the session, “Hiring Immigrants: Why it Matters and What it Takes,” attendees heard directly from local and national experts Upwardly Global, Career Development Center, and Allegheny Health Network’s Center for Inclusion Health. Upwardly Global shared how it has successfully developed national level employer partnerships by engaging corporate employees as volunteers and mentors for its foreign-trained professional clients. The Career Development Center discussed its collaborative All for All Immigrant Workforce Program and its newly developed online pilot program, which seeks to provide an online training option for its immigrant clients to complement the more traditional “high touch” career counseling approach.

As Betty Cruz, director of Change Agency stated earlier this year, “It’s one thing to say we are welcoming, but it’s another thing to put action behind those words.” The summit made it clear: Pittsburgh is putting action behind its words.

To learn more about programs nationwide serving skilled immigrants, visit IMPRINT’s program map.

Debra Means-West

Debra Means-West is the Program Manager at WES Global Talent Bridge.