Resources for Refugees withProfessional Backgrounds

A study by the National Foundation for American Policy (click here for PDF) highlights the skills that immigrant professionals bring with them to the U.S. pointing towards a potential solution to the labor shortages reported in many professional fields. Consider that for nurses alone, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that more than 1.2 million new and replacement nurses will be needed in the U.S. by 2014. In another development, Kansas Senate President Stephen Morris reported that engineer-reliant companies like GPS manufacturer, Garmin, are short 1,500 engineers in the Kansas City area (click for source article).

National Conference
The National Conference on Refugee Professional Recertification was a success. 175 conference participants used the opportunity to exchange ideas and present working models.
The event received excellent news coverage. Participants from one of the conference workshops, a working group on public outreach, have established a recertification networking site, where conference presentations have been posted and the discussion continues. Feel free to invite interested foreign-trained professionals and colleagues to join this exciting new platform.

The first of its kind, this conference focused on the specific issues related to professional retraining, job-seeking and recertification for refugees resettling in the United States. Visit the conference page more information, or go directly to the networking site.

RefugeeWorks has also created a Fact Sheet for Refugees with Skilled and Professional Backgrounds.

Resource Guide Available for Engineers
RefugeeWorks has released a guide for foreign-trained engineers who are seeking to practice their profession in the United States. It describes the structure and future of the engineering profession and workforce composition, as well as the skills, training and credentials needed to advance in the field. This guide is an essential resource for refugees, other newcomers and employment specialists. Click here to download your free copy. Hard copies of the guide are available on request.

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Use the RefugeeWorks Forum
Visit our recertification thread in the online forum to ask questions and hear from your peers around the country on this increasingly important issue.
Placing Refugees
with Professional Backgrounds
Refugee employment staff can bring resources namely qualified professionals to bear on labor market needs in their area. Many refugees leave behind careers as doctors, engineers, teachers, and lawyers when they are forced to flee their home country. They are eager and motivated to re-enter their professions and contribute to the U.S. workforce. Even so, going through a job search in can be daunting for anyone. For refugees, there can be added challenges like recertification, English proficiency, technology differences, and cultural adjustment that need to be addressed during the job search process. Consider the following approaches in your quest to address these challenges and match qualified workers with companies in need of skilled workers:

Expand your Network
Investigate local professional or business associations that may have mentorship programs. They are often very interested in supporting like-minded people in their chosen field. New business contacts and potential mentors are a likely result.

Offer Post-Placement Support to Employers
Put forward on-site English classes, recertification resources, job coaching or other services your agency can provide. Many agencies already offer these kinds of services and with a few adjustments they can be catered to a business needs. Employers will appreciate the investment you make into new hires and will see you as a smart solution to their labor demands.

Research Labor Market Trends in your Area
In fields where there is a significant shortage companies will sometimes offer scholarships and other work supports to qualified candidates looking to gain licensure or credentials in a specific field. For example, it is becoming common for skilled nursing facilities to assist with the costs of nursing school and licensing exams in exchange for a one or two year commitment upon graduating.

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Consider Parallel Career Paths
Help refugees to identify their skills that are transferable to another field. Encourage refugees to explore different careers that may fit their abilities and interests. In some cases, a refugee may choose to enter a job that builds on their existing skills while they work towards gaining credentials in their chosen field.

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