A bipartisan bill,the Improving Opportunities for New Americans Act of 2020, promises to tackle a persistent issue that is a key component of reviving the U.S. economy in this period ahead: Systemic barriers that prevent an estimated two million work-authorized, college-educated new Americans from fully contributing their experience and skills to the U.S. workforce.
“Immigrants are on the front lines in healthcare, technology, logistics and more at this precipitous time—and they will be vital in our efforts to rebuild our economy,” said Jina Krause-Vilmar, President and CEO of Upwardly Global. “Removing these barriers is a part of a larger effort to level the playing field for Americans of all backgrounds.”
Recently introduced by Rep. John Katko (R-NY24) and Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT4), H.R.8046 would direct the Department of Labor to conduct an inter-agency study on the factors that impact U.S. employment opportunities for immigrants and refugees with international training and education — including an estimated 165,000 internationally-trained healthcare professionals who are currently not working in the field in the U.S.
“We all benefit when our workforce is inclusive and allows individuals to fully contribute their skills,” said Krause-Vilmar. “This legislation is an important step forward in ensuring our collective strength.”
Numerous barriers limit opportunities for immigrant and refugee professionals to rebuild careers in the U.S. If enacted, the proposed legislation would direct study in several key areas:
- Language barriers and bias;
- The recognition of international degrees and credentials;
- The accessibility of re-licensing processes; and
- The availability of professional networks and supports to navigate the U.S. job search.
Upwardly Global is part of a dynamic network of national and local nonprofit organizations dedicated to addressing these barriers, which keep an estimated $39 billion in wages and $10 billion in tax receipts out of our economy each year, according to analysis from the Migration Policy Institute.
“A federal study on this issue holds promise to better understand the systemic, interconnected nature of these challenges and develop comprehensive solutions. We’re in a critical moment as a nation, and can no longer afford for people with essential, in-demand skills to be sidelined by these painfully persistent–yet entirely solvable–barriers,” said Krause-Vilmar.
Upwardly Global, founded in 2000, is the first and longest-serving organization focusing on integrating immigrant and refugee professionals into the U.S. workforce. Upwardly Global’s innovative skill-building and networking programs coach newcomers in rebuilding professional careers and U.S. employers in accessing their talents with inclusive hiring practices. To date, Upwardly Global has trained more than 16,000 people. Learn more at www.upwardlyglobal.org.