Paul Feltman is director of the Global Bridge Talent initiative at World Education Services and chair of IMPRINT (Immigrant Professional Integration), a national coalition of nonprofits. Below, he writes about a new immigrant talent study supported by Knight Foundation.
Tucked away in a quiet municipal office in Philadelphia, a man named Prakash Patel (I’ve changed his name to protect his privacy) is working. Today he is a statistical analyst, but when he first arrived in the United States from India, the only job he could find was in a warehouse in Texas. He spent months packing and unpacking boxes, striving to learn how he could make the transition to becoming a professional again.
There are thousands of stories like Patel’s in the Philadelphia region – where 38 percent of immigrants hold college degrees, but only some of them are employed in skill-appropriate jobs.
Surprisingly, there is little available data to illustrate what helps college-educated immigrants such as Patel to make the leap from a survival-level job to professional employment. What helps them succeed? What holds them back? How are factors such as English skills influenced by gender, age or professional field?