Fast Food for Thought


IOM snip 2Learn more here about this IOM public awareness campaign.

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05/14 Webinar Explores Programs for Immigrant Nurses, Engineers and Teachers

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Photo from Latino Community Credit Union and Migration Policy Institute

It never gets any easier to help highly skilled clients.

There are many challenges along the employment service continuum:

– helping them to develop more realistic expectations;

– finding resources to pursue long term career goals;

–  understanding what kinds of entry level jobs they could so to match their long term goals with the need for a survival or starter job.

Migration Policy Institute (MPI) webinar on Wednesday, May 14 at 4:00 pm EDT will present models in three different States (IL, MA, WA) that are addressing the needs of Highly Skilled Immigrants and Refugees with a special focus on Nurses, Engineers, and Teachers.

Read more details here or go directly to the registration page here.




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Lateral Moves and the Definition of a “Good Job”

lateral career moveJob upgrades and professional recertification are common topics in our work.  The concept and potential value of a lateral career move can also  help clients identify attainable options.

When clients request a “good job”, it often means they have unrealistic expectations about the initial job they can obtain as quickly as they need to start earning income.

In reality, “good” can mean different things beyond more money.  (e.g. commute times, flexible schedules, common language teams).  The definition can also change as clients learn more about the possibilities in our workforce and clarify their own priorities.

Learn more about lateral moves in this article from and consider ways to introduce this new concept to clients who are thinking strategically about employment.




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Plan Ahead for Summer/Fall Academic Enrollment

conference-registration-sign-croppedNow is the time to find out about orientation and enrollment schedules for summer and fall academic enrollment.  

ESL classes, short term skill training, prerequisites for higher education or recertification are among the client resources you can likely access through your local community college or other higher learning institutions.

With enough lead time, you can spread the word among clients more easily in already-scheduled meetings and classes.  Plenty of advance notice can also allow clients time to collect their documents, achieve pre-requisites like language assessments and arrange their schedules.   

This is especially important for working clients so they have time to follow their employer procedures about requesting time off for orientations or making a more permanent schedule change to allow them to attend a class while working. 

Job Development Tip:  Share information about available ESL classes and enrollment dates with employers.  They will appreciate being able to provide it to all of their employees.  And, it might help to introduce the idea so clients can more easily request adjustments to their work schedules around registration and class attendance. 


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Change is Good: A Different Take on Professional Expertise and Doing What You Love

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Graphic from

We often struggle to help highly skilled clients adjust their expectations around a starter job.  Finding a longer term path back into doing what they love and are trained to do is difficult, too.

An article from talks about learning to love what you do even if it’s not yet what you dream about doing.   It recommends focusing on quality, new skills and growth through getting out of your comfort zone.

After six months at Higher, I’m still learning new skills and am still feeling a bit outside of my direct client service comfort zone.  It’s energizing.  This article resonated with me.

Reading it could help highly-skilled clients think through the changes and challenges they’re facing. Or, maybe it will help you find energy and inspiration when the rigors of our work leave you feeling burned out.


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Secondary Migration, Meat Processing Jobs and City Services

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Photo Credit: Stephen Spillman, The Texas Tribune and NY Times

A recent article in the New York Times presents the diverse  issues involved in secondary migration initially motivated by jobs in the meat processing industry.

From the employment perspective, one of the most difficult questions is how to help clients move beyond meat processing jobs.  That could involve a job upgrade or response to a repetitive-motion injury.  In many cases, secondary migrants arrive after the initial mass hiring is finished, so full time work is no longer available.

We are all familiar with the problems caused by the phenomenon of secondary migration around jobs in this industry.  Can anyone share solutions, employer partnerships or success stories?


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NEW Upwardly Global Skilled Immigrant Employment Training Online

Hispanic woman at computer thumbnailDid you know that more than 25% of the skilled immigrant professionals who benefit from Upwardly Global (UpGlo) programs are refugees or asylees?  If you don’t already know about this great resource for our highly skilled clients, explore UpGlo’s website today.

UpGlo is launching an exciting new Online Employment Training Program that can help more of our clients with professional degrees and work experience find job upgrades with higher paying employment in their field’s of expertise.

Tell your clients.  Spread the word.  Think about how to reach clients beyond their initial period of service who might be the best candidates to take advantage of this great opportunity.

Training Program Details

The training program is a guided series of self-paced, online workshops that help skilled immigrants acquire the techniques and cultural savvy needed to market themselves as a competitive candidate for U.S. jobs, and ultimately to return to their career fields in the U.S.  The program description includes a clear list of services, eligibility requiremens and an online application form.

After applying, an UpGlo staff member will call the client directly within three to five business days.  This initial call includes a discussion of their experience and qualifications in English, as part of the screening process.

Why UpGlo is an Important Partner for Our Network

Across our refugee employment network, we continue to talk about better ways to help highly skilled clients achieve their dreams to work in their field AND begin to work in a survival or starter job so they can meet their basic needs through rapid employment.

Often, by the time clients are ready for a job upgrade , they are  no longer in touch with refugee employment programs and seldom come back to request those services.  Due to the constraints of resources and case loads, it’s often difficult to provide the required support when they do come back to request it.

The nature of our work requires us to be generalists, offering solid basic support for all clients.  UpGlo’s focus on the highly-skilled segment of our client base allows them to develop the deeper expertise often required to help these clients successfully reenter their chosen career fields.





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Big Picture Survey of Skilled Immigrants in the US Workforce

African Pro Man at Computer[1]Skilled immigrants are an integral part of the ongoing conversation around Comprehensive Immigrant Reform that is generating in energy and information we can use.  We often struggle to help highly skilled refugees adjust expectations and balance their long term career goals with the need to pay the rent.

We feel pressure to achieve our placement numbers and provide 5 years of employment services with limited resources.  There’s certainly little time to sit back and think about the bigger picture. 

This overview of current research and opinion on both sides of the issue will help you get up to speed on current thinking about this difficult to serve part of our client base.

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Free Resources for Doctors

20060909-121226During the initial months of resettlement, we know it can be difficult to support the long-term career goals of resettled refugees who want to re-enter the medical field as doctors.

Here are two free resources from the Educational Commission for Foreign Graduates that clients can access on their own during and beyond their first few months of resettlement.

Click on the hyperlinks below to explore further.


1.  The One Dozen Most Important Things You May Not Have Known, Understood, or Realized about American MedicineThis is a series of modules that offers a quick in the culture of the American healthcare system.  

2.  Tips for Understanding US Medical Jargon — The use of informal language is common in the medical world, and there are a variety of abbreviations, idioms/slang terms, and “medicalese” that American healthcare professionals employ on a regular basis.  Using these abbreviations and terms properly is important to avoid being misinterpreted or appearing insensitive.

Both of these resources crossed my desk through an email from IMPRINT, a coalition of organizations active in the emerging field of immigrant professional integration.  You can sign up for their mailing list here.


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Career Paths and Options for Medical Professionals

Med Pro Group iStock_000022514360XSmallMany of you likely already know about Upwardly Global, a great organization that focuses specifically on helping foreign-trained and skilled immigrants reenter the US workforce in their profession.

Developed in collaboration with the Welcome Back Initiative, their website offer three excellent on-line trainings about alternative career pathways for Physicians and Nurses; Pharmacists and Dentists.  They present specific jobs that require little or no training and outline the education and other skills require for each.

These could be great resources for clients, but you should consider watching them first so you can be prepared to talk to clients about their ideas and expectations after they watch.

The training does emphasize that every situation is different and that the examples provided will not work for everyone.  It also acknowledges the need to earn income while achieving longer term goals.  The trainings are presented in simple, clearly-articulated English that will be easy to understand for intermediate to advanced English speakers.

For clients struggling to adjust their expectations around an initial, starter or survival job, some of the ideas and options presented in the training could reignite their resistance to the requirements of the resettlement program in which they are enrolled.  More importantly, delays in starting to work could cause serious damage to their families’ economic self-sufficiency.

Upwardly Global and the Welcome Back Initiative are both excellent resources for our clients.  Higher hopes to explore ways that we can better help clients tap into their resources.  Stay tuned for more information in the coming months.


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