WES Global Talent Bridge congratulates the 17 communities awarded funding from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to implement the Refugee Career Pathways program. Four of the recipients – organizations from Denver, Santa Clara, St. Louis, and Boise/Salt Lake City – have partnered closely with Global Talent Bridge in 2018 through their participation in its Skilled Immigrant Integration Program.
“For many years WES Global Talent Bridge has worked to promote strategies that more effectively leverage the full range of talent that skilled immigrants and refugees bring,” says Paul Feltman, WES’s deputy executive director for global talent policy and programs. “And we could not be more proud of our partners who were selected for this program. Far too often highly educated and talented immigrants have found themselves in survival jobs when they could be contributing more significantly to our economy and communities while at the same time fully realizing their own professional potential. This is a boon for us all.”
In announcing the grants, ORR highlighted an issue that has long been known but rarely tackled head-on: “The Refugee Career Pathways program was established …to address the obstacles faced by resettled refugees in initiating professional careers in their new communities. While many refugees have previous professional experience in their country of origin, they often lack the degrees, certifications, and knowledge specific to the U.S. job environment needed to attain professional employment after resettlement. Even highly-skilled refugees are often required to take low-skilled jobs with little opportunity for advancement or skill development. This in turn limits refugees’ potential to achieve economic self-sufficiency and to benefit their communities by making full use of the skills and experience they bring to their new home.”
In contrast to existing programs that focus narrowly on initial job placement – often in survival jobs – the Refugee Career Pathways initiative will support programs that employ a career pathways approach with the goals of great job security and career advancement.
WES Global Talent Bridge has developed its own series of tools to help immigrants and refugees use the career pathways approach, offering “Pathways to Success” seminars and webinars as well as a series of career e-guides for various professions, such as nursing, education, health care, and engineering, among others.
In addition to the four groups working with the Skilled Immigrant Integration Program, other communities among the 17 awardees regularly work with WES Global Talent Bridge. Those include communities in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, as well as communities throughout the country served by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, itself an awardee.
“These ORR awards are truly a shot in the arm to help these communities develop programs for effective professional integration,” says Feltman. “We look forward to continuing to share our expertise and provide a platform to help all of them make lasting change.”
The official announcement, including the 17 grantees, can be found on the ORR website here.