UPDATE -- World Education Services Expands Immigrant Professional Integration Program to 24 Communities Nationwide

NEW YORK, Feb. 04, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- World Education Services (WES) has announced the selection of eight state and local communities to join its three-year-old Skilled Immigrant Integration Program, bringing the total number of participating communities to 24.  

The newly announced program participants include the cities of Buffalo, N.Y.; Salem, Ore.; Atlanta; Tulsa, Okla.; Cincinnati; and the states of New Jersey, Nevada, and Indiana. Participants in the previous two program cohorts have come from every part of the country, including Maine, Alaska, Texas, Missouri, California, and many points in between.

“We are thrilled to invite eight new communities to join the growing network of cities and states that are part of the Skilled Immigrant Integration Program,” said Paul Feltman, deputy executive director of global talent policy and programs at WES. “Each is deeply committed to finding ways to ensure that skilled immigrants are able to contribute their training and talents to the workforce.”

Launched in 2018, the Skilled Immigrant Integration Program is part of WES’ ongoing efforts to tackle the issue of brain waste. In the United States, brain waste leaves more than 2 million of the roughly 8.9 million college-educated immigrants age 25 or older either under- or unemployed. A 2016 study, co-authored by WES, the Migration Policy Institute, and New American Economy, found that brain waste results in an estimated $39.4 billion in forgone earnings, and lost federal, state, and local tax revenues of $10.2 billion.

To help address this challenge, the Skilled Immigrant Integration Program selects a new cohort of eight communities to join the program each year. Over the course of a year, these state and local communities share insights, develop effective programming and policies, and replicate best practices. Participants join working groups, monthly calls, and an annual convening designed to cement working relationships and facilitate ongoing collaboration.

WES provides ongoing technical assistance to participating communities, and connects them with other national experts in the field of immigrant integration. Partner organizations include the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education, the National Skills Coalition, Upwardly Global, the Welcome Back Initiative, and the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians.

“These partners draw upon decades of experience in highly relevant fields,” said Katherine Gebremedhin, director, state and local initiatives, Global Talent Bridge at WES. “The targeted technical assistance they provide helps participants develop successful program models, resources, and policies that enable immigrants to thrive and to contribute to their communities.”

Past participants in the Skilled Immigrant Integration Program say that the program has helped them achieve desired goals, like ensuring that highly trained immigrants have better access to skilled employment. “We have seen more foreign-trained professionals beginning to advance and explore career opportunities closer to their professional degrees from their home countries,” said Julia Trujillo, director of the Office of Economic Opportunity for the city of Portland, Maine, and a participant in the 2019 Skilled Immigrant Integration Program. “With the support of WES and other technical assistance providers, we have also made significant progress in reducing barriers to licensing at the state level.”  

The vision and commitment of leaders like Trujillo are critical to the program’s long-range impact. “State, city, and community leaders are at the forefront of finding solutions that enable skilled immigrants to put their talents to use in their new communities,” said Esther Benjamin, CEO and executive director of WES. “As part of the Skilled Immigrant Integration Program, these leaders become part of a dynamic network that generates near-term impact for immigrants, employers, and communities, and that results in the development of effective policies, programs, and practices that can be replicated from city to city and state to state.”

About WES
Founded in 1974, World Education Services Inc. (WES) is a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to helping international students, immigrants, and refugees achieve their educational and workplace goals in the United States and Canada. WES evaluates and advocates for the recognition of international education qualifications, and for integrating immigrants into the workforce. Over the course of more than 45 years, WES has provided credential evaluations to nearly three million individuals from around the globe.

For more information, contact Ashley Craddock, Director of Strategic Communications, World Education Services. T: 512.212.3998 E: acraddock@WES.org.