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Maryland Selected to Participate in National Skilled Immigrant Integration Pilot Program

BALTIMORE (Nov. 7, 2017) – The state of Maryland has been chosen as one of eight U.S. localities to receive customized technical assistance to advance its skilled immigrant integration efforts.

Cited for its track record of supporting immigrant professional success through local programs and initiatives, Maryland joins the cities of Louisville, Boise, Denver, St. Louis, and Santa Clara (Calif.), and the states of Ohio and Michigan in this national pilot program, led by World Education Services (WES), a national organization dedicated to helping skilled immigrants fully utilize their talents and education in the United States.

“New Americans bring diverse skills, new languages, and cultural knowledge to our labor market,” said Department of Labor Secretary Kelly M. Schulz. “However, they often come against barriers that prevent them from finding employment within their career field. The WES pilot program will allow Maryland to explore new ways to help our skilled immigrant population overcome those barriers, while simultaneously working to satisfy a workforce skills shortage in a variety of industries.”

Through the program, Maryland will develop career pathway guides that help skilled immigrants enter the U.S. workforce and return to their career fields. In this way, the guides also serve as a pathway to economic independence and prosperity, in that returning to their careers helps New Americans reach their earning potential. The guides will target specific occupations and provide clear steps that include educational requirements, steps and fees associated with professional licensing, and a strategic list of positions along a career path. The guides will be made available at all 31 American Job Centers throughout the state, through WIOA Title II adult education partners, and immigrant-serving organizations on the Skilled Immigrant Task Force.

“This pilot program offers an opportunity for leading forward-thinking communities that participated in last year’s National Skills and Credential Institute to further their state and local skilled immigrant integration initiatives,” explains Paul Feltman, director of WES Global Talent Bridge. “We are encouraged by all the hard work each of these communities has already done on behalf of local immigrant integration, and are anticipating great things from them as the program unfolds over the next year.”

Each of the eight pilot communities will receive 12 hours of coaching and advising provided by WES Global Talent Bridge; 12 hours of additional customized technical assistance from national experts; and four interactive web-based training sessions with WES Global Talent Bridge and other national partners on topics related to immigrant professional integration. As part of the pilot group, each community will participate in monthly calls with WES Global Talent Bridge and participating communities to share ideas and provide updates on the progress of local efforts.

Maryland also hopes to learn engagement strategies that will grow the Skilled Immigrant Task Force. “Lack of professional networks and undervalued education work against a skilled immigrant trying to enter the labor market, but these factors don’t make them any less valuable as an employee,” said Schulz. “It is our goal through this pilot program to learn how to better convey that message to our state’s employers.”

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