June 11, 2011


Report documents dramatic shift in immigrant workforce’s skill level (Washington Post. 6/08/11)

The study also found that half of highly skilled immigrants in the United States are working in jobs for which they are overqualified.

“Education credentials and language are big hurdles,” said Matthew Hall, a University of Illinois sociology professor who co-wrote the report.

Many immigrants find their degrees and certifications from abroad are not recognized here.

Luma Ghalib, 42, trained as a doctor in her native Iraq and then went to New Zealand for more training. When she moved to the United States a decade ago, she had to start from scratch.

“When you come here, you know it’s not going to be easy,” she said, adding that she spent several years redoing her basic medical training and retaking exams in the United States before specializing in endocrinology.

The Fredericksburg resident said she has no regrets about the five additional years of study that allowed her to live and work as a doctor here.

“It’s a fair country, unlike a lot of countries,” she said. “If you’re a hardworking person, you get to where you need to be going.”

Some employers may say they prefer immigrants to native-born workers. When Samir Kumar needs to hire employees for his Northern Virginia-based IT business, he often looks overseas. Not only do workers from India and Ukraine have the required training, but their expectations are lower, he said.

“They actually don’t demand a very high amount of salary, and the expectations are kind of grounded and they don’t jump around so much” between companies, said the 39-year-old Ashburn resident, an immigrant from India. U.S.-born technology and business analysts are hard to find and hard to retain, he said, while immigrants with the same skills and education “are much easier to manage.”

Posted by at June 11, 2011 7:24 AM

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