WES Launches #UntappedTalent Campaign to Raise Awareness of the Underemployment and Unemployment of Immigrants and Refugees
As the United States responds to the COVID-19 pandemic and works toward achieving full economic recovery, World Education Services (WES) announced the launch of the #UntappedTalent public awareness campaign, an initiative developed to spotlight the need for policy reforms that increase the economic mobility of immigrants and refugees in the U.S.
Systemic barriers to economic mobility, including limited recognition of international credentials and lack of investment in workforce development and adult education, result in the underemployment or unemployment of two million college-educated immigrants and refugees in the U.S.; 60 percent of these individuals hold international credentials, according to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI). This underutilization of talent limits workforce diversity and denies communities the critical social, cultural, and linguistic competence of immigrant and refugee workers. According to MPI, it also results in more than $39 billion in forgone earnings and $10 billion in unrealized tax payments in the U.S. each year.
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“This moment in our nation’s economic recovery offers an opportunity to reimagine policies affecting immigrant and refugee workers and build a resilient, equitable workforce that welcomes the diverse experiences of all workers,” said Esther Benjamin, CEO and Executive Director of WES. “We understand the complex barriers that limit the employment opportunities of immigrant and refugee workers, particularly those workers with international credentials. We hope our new campaign will help to open pathways so that everyone has a fair chance of reaching their career goals.”
WES’ focus is to increase public investments in accessible workforce development training and English-language learning; support state and local efforts to advance the economic inclusion of immigrants and refugees; and reform occupational licensing laws to recognize international credentials.