Five Sites Selected Across U.S. for World Education Services’ Inaugural Workforce Inclusion Demonstration Program

New York, New York, UNITED STATES


NEW YORK, Nov. 10, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, World Education Services (WES) announced the selection of five sites for its inaugural Skilled Immigrant Integration Program (SIIP) Demonstration Opportunity. These organizations will receive financial and technical assistance from WES Global Talent Bridge to develop promising workforce inclusion initiatives.

The selected partners are Massachusetts-based African Bridge Network (ABN), the Nevada Governor’s Office for New Americans (ONA), the Office of Global Michigan, Restore Education, leading the statewide consortium, Synergy Texas AEL, and the Washington Academy for International Medical Graduates (WAIMG).

After four years of providing expertise and coaching to communities across the United States through the SIIP network, WES Global Talent Bridge is pursuing a new model of partnership with engaged communities that are demonstrating innovative approaches to promoting the workforce inclusion of immigrants and refugees. The SIIP Demonstration Opportunity selected from proposals that focused on bridging initiatives for internationally trained health care workers and programs that leverage immigrant and refugee professional networks to promote workforce inclusion.

“The collaborations the SIIP network has facilitated have generated incredible momentum and support across the U.S. for initiatives that promote the workforce inclusion of immigrants and refugees,” said Katherine Gebremedhin, Director of State and Local Initiatives at WES Global Talent Bridge. “The SIIP Demonstration Opportunity will provide a space for state and local communities to partner with WES to increase their impact and advance their capacity to develop programs with potential for replication throughout the U.S.”

The demonstration’s focus on health workforce inclusion and supporting immigrant professional networks reflects two areas where there is high demand for promising programs and initiatives that can be implemented at scale.

More than 2 million college-educated immigrants are underemployed or unemployed in the U.S.—60 percent of them are internationally educated. According to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), this talent underutilization results in an estimated $39 billion in forgone wages and $10 billion in unrealized tax receipts each year. It also deprives U.S. communities of the diverse professional, social, cultural, and linguistic competence of these qualified individuals.

In the U.S. health sector, an estimated 263,000 immigrant and refugee workers who hold health-related degrees are currently working in low-wage jobs or are unemployed. For many internationally trained health professionals, pursuing licensure and residency in the U.S. is often a time-consuming and costly process that may require the repetition of some—or all—of their former training.

To promote equitable workforce opportunities in the health sector, African Bridge Network plans to develop a pipeline through training and employer partnerships, so that internationally trained health workers can pursue high-demand careers in Massachusetts’ biomedical industry. WAIMG will focus on developing a program to move forward with the implementation of recent legislation that creates a pathway for international medical graduates (IMGs) to receive medical licensure in Washington State. This program will serve as a potential blueprint for other states to bolster and diversify their health care workforces.

Lacking access to a professional network and social capital also contributes to the underemployment and unemployment of immigrants and refugees. In the WES Global Talent Bridge “Steps to Success” survey, 41 percent of respondents who had many friends and family in the U.S. had found work that utilized their higher education, compared with just 20 percent of those who had no friends or family to support them.

Restore Education in Texas will focus on creating a network linking organizations to support the development of immigrant and refugee professional networks. Core goals of the initiative include collaborating with internationally trained immigrant and refugee workers, promoting a statewide workforce development infrastructure, and strengthening partnerships and increasing knowledge-sharing across sectors.

The Office of Global Michigan is creating a program to support professional networking and the targeted employment of internationally trained and often multi-lingual candidates to better serve the state’s growing immigrant and refugee population. Finally, the Nevada Governor’s ONA plans to enhance its Immigrant Workforce Development Group to engage more immigrant and refugee networks in the development of better workforce services throughout the state. The group will continue to identify and address the barriers to employment faced by many in Nevada’s immigrant and refugee communities.

“At this moment of recovery, ensuring that our nation’s workforce taps the talents and experience of immigrants and refugees is critical,” said Esther Benjamin, CEO and Executive Director of WES. “Through the SIIP Demonstration Opportunity, WES is deepening its support for high-potential workforce inclusion strategies—and furthering the organization’s mission of helping people learn, work, and thrive in new places.”

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About World Education Services (WES)
World Education Services (WES) is a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to helping international students, immigrants, and refugees achieve their educational and career goals in the United States and Canada. For more than 45 years, WES has set the standard of excellence in the field of international academic credential evaluation. Through WES Global Talent Bridge, the organization joins with institutional partners, community-based organizations, and policymakers to help immigrants and refugees who hold international credentials fully utilize their talents and education to achieve their academic and professional goals. Its philanthropic arm, the WES Mariam Assefa Fund, supports catalytic leaders and organizations working to build inclusive economies and to ensure that immigrants and refugees can achieve their aspirations and thrive.

About the Skilled Immigrant Integration Program (SIIP)
The Skilled Immigrant Integration Program (SIIP) offers communities an opportunity to leverage technical assistance from WES and its national partners, and to join a network of communities to further their state and local immigrant economic integration initiatives. The SIIP network consists of 32 member communities from cities, states, and regions across the U.S. The current member communities are Atlanta, Georgia; Anchorage, Alaska; Boise/Twin Falls/Salt Lake City, (Idaho/Utah); Boston, Massachusetts; Buffalo, New York; Chicago, Illinois; Cincinnati, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Des Moines, Iowa; Lincoln, Nebraska; Louisville, Kentucky; Howard County, Maryland; Michigan; Minnesota; Nevada; New Jersey; Northwest Arkansas; Lincoln, Ohio (OWIN); Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Portland, Maine; Salem, Massachusetts; Santa Clara, California; South Bend, Indiana; St. Louis, Missouri; Texas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Utah; and Virginia.

For more information, contact: Jas Chana, Associate Director of Strategic Communications, World Education Services. T: 646.212.3998 E: jchana@wes.org