Recently arrived immigrants in the United States face many cultural and structural challenges that hinder them getting job placements or kick starting their career. Being in unfamiliar territory may be daunting for thousands of asylum seekers and immigrants seeking a better life in the United States.

The value of immigrants to any economy cannot be underestimated. Immigrants over the years have contributed immensely to the economic development of the United States. Skilled immigrants form the backbone of the American economy and they are culturally enriching to the fabric of the American people. Studies have shown that naturalized immigrants have a positive impact on the United States labor market. Moreover, immigrants often work harder and achieve better economic success than native citizens of the United States.

Statistics show that more than 45% of immigrants to the United States have a bachelor’s degree. However more than two million immigrants are unemployed or work in jobs that are way below their skill level. In light of these challenges, organizations like Upwardly Global (UpGlo) helps work-authorized immigrants, refugees, asylees, and Special Immigrant Visa holders (SIVs) restart– or start -their professional careers in the United States. The organization seeks to remove barriers that deter skilled immigrants and asylum seekers from working professionally and achieving their full potential.

Moreover, immigrants have their careers interrupted when they resettle in the United States. Licensing requirements in many states are complex and confusing to many newly resettled immigrants. Therefore, resources like Upwardly Global aid many immigrants and asylum seekers understand the necessary requirements to jumpstart their new professional career in the United States. The organization has helped many immigrants navigate their new life in the United States and made it simpler for young professionals get meaningful employment using its resources and networks. To be eligible to work with UpGlo, the immigrant or asylee must meet the following conditions: be fully work-authorized, have a bachelor’s degree from outside the U.S., be fluent in English, have been in the United States for 5 years or less.

Through events and workshops, training programs and resettlement drives, educated immigrants are seamlessly incorporated into the American workforce and lifestyle. Upwardly Global facilitates community based partnerships by using refugee resettlement agencies and religious institutions to help immigrants secure economic stability by connecting them to professional jobs in the United States. On the other hand, specialized programs like the Professional Opportunities for Women Asylees and Refugees (POWAR) give asylum seekers much needed support when looking for jobs. It trains women immigrants on how to negotiate salary, how to fit in the workplace and how to balance family and work life.

Partnerships and internship placements link local leaders with UpGlo job seekers to sharpen their skills relating to cultural awareness. Partnership with Ignite for instance creates a platform for dialogue where participants can discuss issues to do with equality, inclusion and diversity. Partnerships for refugees at Tetra Tech DPK is an invaluable resource that helps asylum seekers and refugees access internships in San Francisco. Free courses on Coursera provides unlimited college course materials on relevant industries to sharpen their skillset.

Testimonials from immigrant participants reflects how Upwardly Global has over the years helped asylum seekers or immigrants maximize their potential, improve their competency and get into the workforce. Jacqueline, an immigrant from Uganda moved to the United States in order to give her three children a better chance in life. However, her job searching hit a snag when she received no response form potential employers despite the huge number of resumes sent. Barely surviving on her dwindling savings, Jacqueline got in touch with Upwardly Global that connected her to a mentor who helped her fine tune her job search strategy. In a week, she was soon hired and she can now provide for her family. Khaled, an asylum seeker from Syria was stuck in low paying jobs like waiting tables and selling shoes. However, through Upwardly Global’s help, Khaled was able to get training and mentorship which helped him secure a job as a project manager.

Essentially, Upwardly Global seeks to create avenues through which immigrants can easily integrate into American workforce by offering training (Writing U.S.-style resume, market your skills, interview with confidence,…), mentorship and a welcoming environment to enable immigrants to thrive and achieve their dreams. By championing for the No Ban Act, the organization actively condemns travel bans that block refugees and asylum seekers from traveling freely to the United States. Upwardly Global recognizes the positive impact of immigrants in healthcare and engineering fields. There is a humanitarian need to protect people fleeing persecution, recognize the potential of newcomers and the need to fully integrate them into the American workforce.

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Dickson Soire

Afrikagora Magazine

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