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Michigan’s Leaders Tackle Brain Waste

Friday June 9, 2017 | by Debra Means-West

Michigan’s Leaders Tackle Brain Waste

On May 1st, World Education Services (WES) Global Talent Bridge, New American Economy (NAE), Global Detroit, and the Michigan Office for New Americans (MONA) convened with over 70 attendees representing workforce development, adult education, and the business community to discuss issues and strategies directed at tackling “brain waste”—the unemployment and underemployment of college-educated and professional immigrants and refugees.

Mike Zimmer, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s Cabinet Director, opened the event, followed by presentations from local and national leaders in the field including:

In this all-day event, attendees gained insight into how Michigan is tapping into its foreign-educated population as a means of addressing its growing shortage of skilled workers, especially in key industries like healthcare and STEM.

Working-group sessions facilitated dynamic discussions that focused on the value of recognizing international education, the importance of investing in skilled immigrants, and the economic benefit of integrating skilled immigrant talent into the workforce. Presenters provided information on innovative publicly and privately funded programs such as The Michigan International Talent Solutions (MITS) program and Global Detroit. Other highlights included the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) website, which is exclusively dedicated to helping foreign-educated professionals navigate over 50 licensed occupations, as well as an overview of the Migration Policy Institute’s (MPI) Untapped Talent report, containing state-specific data on the costs associated with brain waste.

The event wrapped up with an employer round table facilitated by Karen Phillippi, Deputy Director of MONA. This round table created a dedicated space for attendees to talk candidly about what they hear from employers in their day-to-day work.

After a full day of discussion and insight, one thing was clear: As Steve Tobocman of Global Detroit put it, “Michigan is a national leader in fighting brain waste.”

To learn more about Michigan-based programs, as well as national programs serving skilled immigrants, visit IMPRINT’s program map.

Debra Means-West

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