$1.2M to help high-skilled immigrants find jobs

Citizenship candidates raise their hands during the Pledge of Allegiance at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) naturalization ceremony at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, U.S., Sept. 17, 2019.
REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton, File

In recognition of Immigrant Heritage Month, the New York State Office for New Americans (ONA) has announced $1.1 million for the new Professional Pathways for High-Skilled Immigrants program to help new Americans find jobs matched with their expertise.

In addition, ONA said it will also be expanding its partnership with AlbanyCanCode, first announced in October 2020, with an additional commitment of $100,000 to offer new basic digital literacy classes and software training courses through August 2022.

“These programs will help New York respond to the post COVID-19 job market by assisting new Americans to fully utilize their potential and obtain meaningful employment,” said ONA in a statement.

New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, “Many immigrants worked as essential workers throughout the COVID-19 crisis, providing key services for New Yorkers, and I can think of no better way to honor immigrants than by offering them the opportunity to match their expertise with job placement and increase their digital literacy skills.

“The new Professional Pathway program for High-Skilled Immigrants will help New York State build back better, and is the latest example of New York’s ongoing commitment to immigrant empowerment and workforce development,” Rosado said.

ONA said the NYS Professional Pathways program will enable high-skilled immigrants overcome barriers to professional development through the screening, training and/or re-credentialing of participants and the identification of job placement opportunities for low-income immigrants in the regions of the state where this program is launching.

The organizations provisionally awarded contracts under this program will be working with ONA to coordinate with employers and workforce development boards in their regions to ensure they are tapping into existing workforce development initiatives that are working to fill employment gaps, especially given the change in employment skills and needs as a result of COVID-19, according to ONA.

The six regions and organizations offering the program are: Bronx/Manhattan/Staten Island — International Rescue Committee; Brooklyn/Queens — Upwardly Global; South Capital Region — US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants; Central NY — InterFaith Works;

Mohawk Valley; and The Center Western New York — International Institute of Buffalo.

Upwardly Global, a national leader in immigrant workforce development, will serve as the lead agency.

In this role, ONA said Upwardly Global will lead the statewide network of ONA Job Coaches, and provide expert guidance and technical assistance to the program in different regions of the state.

“Over the last year, Upwardly Global has continued to work very closely with the New York State Office for New Americans to invest in immigrants and refugee job seekers,” said Jina Krause-Vilmar, chief executive officer, Upwardly Global. “This population is often invisibilized and overlooked in public discourse. These communities should be able to restart their careers and rebuild their lives in a way that enhances shared prosperity.

“This investment moves us in the right direction,” she added. “Not only will Upwardly Global take a leading role in supporting the state’s capacity to serve skilled newcomers, but we have also been awarded an additional ONA grant to be the direct service provider of the new Professional Pathways Program in Brooklyn and Queens.”

ONA said recruitment for participants in the Professional Pathways program will begin in July.

Individuals who are interested in participating in the program can call the New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636.

To be eligible for the program, candidates must: Have prior higher education and employment experience from outside the United States;

be authorized to work in the United States; and meet the low-income eligibility requirements of the program.

According to a recent report from New American Economy (NAE) and Envoy Global, there remains a shortage of highly skilled workers to meet demand from US employers, warning that this shortage will persist beyond the pandemic.

ONA said these findings support the goal of the Professional Pathways program: That responsive, employment-based solutions and support systems could help quicken the pace of the economic recovery.

Research shows that almost half of immigrants entering the US between 2011 and 2015 have at least a bachelor’s degree.

But ONA said nearly two million immigrants with college degrees — or one out of every four — are unemployed or working well below their skill level, missing out on more than $39 billion in wages annually, and governments losing out on $10 billion in tax payments.

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