Photo: Emily Griffith Technical College representatives at Toronto Convening. Pictured L-R: Barbara Lindsay, director of Workforce Development and Career Services; Tiffany Jaramillo, career navigator; and Heather Colwell, student navigator. Photo by Anthony Castro.
Q&A With the Denver Skilled Immigrant Integration Team
How has the Denver team progressed since the start of the program?
Emily Griffith Technical has created a guide for skilled immigrants called the Skill-Based Pathway Guide: Engineers. Our guide is unique in that it is only five pages, focusing on:
- Transferable skills
- Lists of and links to jobs
- Certificates and trainings
- English proficiency needed at entry, mid, and advanced career levels
- A planning tool worksheet.
We feel confident in the layout and design and are making final changes based on feedback we are receiving from Colorado’s Department of Licensing Agency (DORA), foreign-trained engineers currently in our programs, and employers. We expect final revisions to be completed by the end of the project. One challenge we are facing currently is where this document will live and be accessed, but our goal is to initially get it up on Emily Griffith’s website.
Our original second outcome of establishing Emily Griffith as a center for skilled immigrant integration (including achieving CCCIE Blue Ribbon membership) has changed a bit. In planning to establish a center we ran in to challenges around availability of physical and online space and logistics. In addition, Emily Griffith has been developing a new strategic plan for the college, thus, we postponed our center initiative to insure our efforts align with the plan. These developments led us to focusing on what service we already provide for skilled immigrants and sharing these with staff, students, and prospective students of Emily Griffith, as well as community members, organizations, and employers who may want to participate, refer, or hire skill immigrants. Therefore, our outcome is now focused on the development of a communication plan that will be executed throughout the next year, including the roll out of an Immigrant and Refugee Services Handbook detailing all of the services we currently offer at Emily Griffith and how to connect students to these services.
The Immigrant and Refugee Services Handbook is expected to be completed and distributed to Emily Griffith staff in early October, followed by presentations of the services and handbook at various departmental meetings. We are confident our efforts to better communicate our services internally will support our future efforts to establish a center and increase our ability as a college to best serve skilled immigrants.
What are some lessons you might share with other localities trying to do similar work?
The technical assistance, trainings, and the convening in Toronto have been so helpful and it’s been encouraging to meet and learn from like-minded individuals and programs working with skilled immigrants. Through TA calls and visiting George Brown College we have gained insight and ideas of how other community colleges and education institutions do this work, address barriers, and market their program. Through our monthly MOLDS calls we have learned from and received feedback from other communities creating guides. It’s been helpful to see the different forms we’ve all taken to meet our communities’ needs and the different processes and partners each community has used. Seeing the success of other participants has reinforced the necessity of partnerships from different sectors. Sustaining the direction of this project and Emily Griffith’s commitment to skilled immigrants has resulted in more interest from leadership, interdepartmental collaboration, and increased awareness in the Denver community.
What are your thoughts on the Skilled Immigrant Integration Program?
The Skilled Immigrant Integration Pilot has been a positive and uniting opportunity. Not only has it brought key stakeholders within Emily Griffith and the Denver community together to better serve skilled immigrants, it has widened our stakeholder and partnering community to include other organizations throughout the U.S. and in Canada. Having a network of colleagues working on various projects related to skilled immigrant integration is a resource that we plan to tap into in the future as we continue to serve this population at Emily Griffith and within the Denver community.