Global Talent Bridge Partner Blog

News on practice and policy affecting internationally trained immigrants and refugees

WES Skilled Immigrant Integration Program Off to a Strong Start

Friday January 19, 2018 | by Morris Ardoin

The WES Global Talent Bridge Skilled Immigrant Integration Program is off to a strong start, as the eight communities in the program – Denver, Louisville, Santa Clara, St. Louis, and Boise and its regional partners Twin Falls and Salt Lake City, as well as the states of Ohio, Michigan, and Maryland – are developing and implementing plans to steer the technical assistance they will receive over the course of this year to help advance their skilled immigrant integration efforts.

The eight localities were chosen to participate in this national pilot program based on their track records of supporting immigrant professional success through local programs and initiatives. In 2018 WES Global Talent Bridge and other national experts will be providing each of the communities with 24 hours of hands-on coaching, advising, and technical assistance as well as four interactive web-based training sessions on immigrant professional integration. The communities have begun participating in calls (scheduled for each month of the program) to share ideas and give updates on their progress.

The communities are focusing on one or more of the following efforts:

  • Developing career pathways resources for internationally-educated immigrants
  • Developing employer engagement strategies
  • Strengthening local and regional partnerships
  • Engaging community colleges in skilled immigrant integration
  • Developing strategies to address local and state policy
  • Developing workforce development strategies to better serve skilled immigrants
  • Creating public education campaigns and convenings to raise awareness

Spotlight on Michigan 

Each month the work of one of the communities will be featured in the Global Talent Bridge newsletter, beginning this month with the State of Michigan, where Karen Phillippi, deputy director of the Michigan Office for New Americans (MONA) says their work with the Skilled Immigrant Integration Program will have two primary goals:

  • Enhance access to workforce development services for immigrants and refugees, and
  • Help foreign educated/trained physicians and other healthcare professionals successfully navigate healthcare career pathways.

“MONA and our state Talent Investment Agency (TIA) have partnered on workforce development services for immigrants and refugees,” says Phillippi.  “MONA and TIA make every effort to ensure that immigrants and refugees understand the workforce development system and understand how to access services, with the goal of helping them attain employment.”

For the focus on helping healthcare professionals re-establish their careers in Michigan, MONA is exploring options for immigrants in careers that require certification only, and is also working with partners in various industry sectors where licensing is required.

“The State of Michigan continually strives to be a national leader in skilled immigrant occupational licensing,” she says.  “We are currently reviewing healthcare occupations to see how we can minimize or eliminate barriers to licensure for those individuals who are foreign educated/trained.  We are also looking to provide those individuals with alternative healthcare career pathways when possible.”

Phillippi is hopeful that, through their work in the Skilled Immigrant Integration Program, MONA will be able to accomplish these important objectives.

“Through the WES Global Talent Bridge TA Program, MONA will benefit greatly from the technical assistance provided by experts in the field.  The expertise of organizations such as the National Skills Coalition and the Welcome Back Initiative will enhance the work being done here in Michigan.  Additionally, we will be able to strengthen partnerships with communities across the country who are also working in the field of immigrant integration from a workforce development perspective.”

To learn more about how MONA is working with New Americans, access the website

Photo: Members of the Michigan core team (L-R): Karen Phillippi, deputy director of the Michigan Office for New Americans, and Annie Fenton, program director for the Michigan International Talent Solutions program.

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WES Global Talent Bridge is a program dedicated to helping skilled immigrants fully utilize their talents and education in the United States and Canada. Global Talent Bridge joins with institutional partners and community organizations to help skilled immigrants leverage their training, achieve their professional goals, and contribute their talents to their full potential.