Barriers to productive employment by skilled immigrants

The Migration Policy Institute issued a report on the barriers to fully productive employment by immigrants with advanced degrees.

One-quarter of all college-educated immigrants and refugees in the United States are stuck in low-skilled jobs or unemployed because of (1) complex licensing requirements, (2) lack of access to programs that can help them bridge English or skills gaps, (3) unfamiliarity with the U.S. labor market and (4) employers’ negative perceptions of the quality of foreign education and work experience. They include doctors, engineers, social workers, teachers and other professionals.

In an earlier report, MPI found that this skill underutilization — brain waste — results in $39.4 billion in forgone wages and a resulting $10.2 billion in unrealized tax payments annually. More than half of the 1.9 million highly skilled immigrants experiencing brain waste came to the United States with academic and professional credentials already in hand.

Some steps to remedy the problem:

*Reform state licensing laws
*Expand reciprocity /mutual recognition between states, countries educational institutions
*Increase advanced English education
*Find out how job integration succeeds/fails
*Monitor employer behavior

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