Picture this: you are visiting New York City and jump into a rideshare car or taxi. When you strike up a conversation with the driver, you learn that he was an engineer in his home country. Or you discover that your child’s babysitter is a doctor who couldn’t find a path to relicensing as a physician when she came to the U.S.
Many of us have had these experiences but may not realize just how common they are. More than two million skilled, work-authorized immigrants with a bachelor’s degree or higher are unemployed or seriously under-employed in the United States, due to the cultural and structural barriers they face in getting back to professional careers. Meanwhile, there are over 6 million open jobs in the country that employers are struggling to fill. With such a clear mismatch, we are asking one important question: are businesses missing a crucial talent pool?
Connecting companies to this untapped talent is part of the mission of Upwardly Global, a national non-profit organization that supports immigrant and refugee professionals in rebuilding careers in the United States. Through customized job search and training programs, UpGlo helps newcomers adapt their education and skills—resulting in 1,000 immigrants and refugees getting back to professional careers every year.
We had the opportunity to meet with Mary Lee, national director of employer engagement, and Emmanuel Imah, national employer partnership manager at Upwardly Global to find out more about the gap between these open job opportunities in high-demand fields, and the immigrant and refugee talent pool that businesses are missing.
“These are highly skilled, trained professionals who, for a variety of reasons when they immigrate, find themselves in low-wage jobs, working far below their talent and potential,” Lee said. “With the right assistance to overcome the hurdles they face, these individuals can instead apply their skills to filling gaps in the workforce and driving our economy forward.”
For many newcomers, English proficiency is one of the biggest hurdles to re-establishing a career, as well as understanding how to translate their skills and international experience to a U.S. job search.
This is where Upwardly Global’s mission comes into place. UpGlo creates a bridge between corporations that are looking for global and diverse talent and these individuals whose talents are under-recognized. They work closely with employers, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to tech start-ups, to develop high-impact partnerships around inclusion and talent access.