Employment, Economic Development, and Labor Issues

Reducing Brain Waste: Creating Career Pathways for Foreign-Educated Immigrants in Washington State,
One America, 2015, 27 pp.
Authors: Vy Nguyen et al
Concerned about the growing number of underemployed, foreign-educated immigrants in Washington State, OneAmerica undertook this study to gauge the scope and severity of the problem and to identify effective policy solutions. The report describes the barriers that keep foreign-educated immigrants from re-entering their professions and shows how the integration of foreign-educated immigrants can bolster the state’s economy. The authors examine two sectors in particular – nursing and teaching – and show how these professions could benefit from the more effective utilization of immigrant talent, gaining access to a labor pool with strong multicultural and linguistic skills — attributes important to both reducing health disparities and improving student educational outcomes in an increasingly diverse state. The report identifies a number of “key levers” of systemic policy change, including: more effective data collection, the development of case management capacity, utilization of online resources, the development of bridge programs, the use of alternative routes and pipelines to recertification, licensing reform, the development of professional connector programs, standard-setting for credential evaluation, financial assistance programs to ease the cost burden of recertification, and greater employer support and engagement. In order to implement these changes in an efficient manner – drawing on the resources and expertise of community-based and educational organizations, as well as different agencies and departments of state government – the authors recommend the establishment of a state Office of New Americans with broad responsibility for the economic, social, and civic integration of immigrants. This office would create a special task force dedicated to maximizing the economic potential of foreign-educated immigrants.