Guest Post: National Skills Coalition staff join 300 advocates to talk immigrant skill building in Philadelphia
By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, Senior Policy Analyst, National Skills Coalition
NSC Senior Policy Analyst Amanda Bergson-Shilcock participated in several events as part of the Welcoming Economies (WE) Global Network conference last week. The conference brought nearly 300 attendees from ten states to Philadelphia for in-depth discussions of workforce, adult education, cross-cultural, and economic development issues related to immigration in the Rust Belt.
Amanda participated in a panel on Career Pathways for Immigrants, where she talked about opportunities in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to support immigrant skill building. She also shared information about new resources released by National Skills Coalition, including toolkits to help advocates advance state policies on Integrated Education and Training and stackable credentials.
Joining her on the panel were Katherine Gebremedhin of WES Global Talent Bridge and Annie Fenton of the Michigan Office for New Americans. The panel was moderated by Karen Phillippi, also of the Michigan Office for New Americans.
Another conference session focused on immigrant workers in the healthcare arena. The panel featured commentary by Marcia Drew Hohn, formerly of the Immigrant Learning Center and co-author of a new report on the issue, as well as John Hunt, director of a program serving immigrant jobseekers at New York’s LaGuardia Community College. The panel was moderated by Sara McElmurry of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which also released a recent report on the issue. NSC’s Upskilling the New American Workforce report was cited by panelists for its profile of a Minnesota program that supports US-born and immigrant adult students in attaining healthcare credentials.
The conference also examined issues related to equity, including strategies for addressing the needs and concerns of American-born “receiving community” members in places where immigrant newcomers are settling. A final session provided an opportunity to discuss intersections between LGBTQ, Black Lives Matter, and immigrant integration advocacy.
Amanda also participated in a pre-conference half-day session hosted by the nonprofit World Education Services (WES). The event was a follow-up to the White House National Skills and Credential Institute held earlier this year. (See our Skills Blog post on that event.)
The WES event brought together nearly 70 attendees, including municipal officials, nonprofit leaders, and other workforce stakeholders, to discuss strategies for addressing immigrant “brain waste” in American communities. The term refers to immigrants who arrive in the US with degrees and credentials from abroad, but end up working in low-wage jobs due to language and other barriers.
Amanda moderated a panel of national experts who provided feedback to attendees on their ideas for addressing brain waste. Panelists included:
- Carol Aguirre, US Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education
- Peter Gonzales, President and CEO of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians
- Suzette Brooks Masters, consultant to philanthropy on immigration issues
- Karen Phillippi, Deputy Director of the Michigan Office of New Americans
View more about both events by checking out the hashtags #WEConvening and #ImmigrantTalent on social media.
This piece originally appeared on the National Skills Coalition blog.