September 28, 2015

Steps to Success: Integrating Immigrant Professionals in the United States

How can communities unlock the full potential of immigrant professionals within their workforce? Which factors have influenced the economic success of foreign-educated immigrants in the U.S.? A report by WES Global Talent Bridge and IMPRINT details the results of a groundbreaking study on the experiences of immigrant professionals, and offers recommendations for more fully utilizing their talents and training.

The survey focused on immigrant professionals in six U.S. cities – Boston, Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia, San Jose, and Seattle – aiming to identify the factors that correlate with successful integration.

Key findings:

  • Social Capital is Powerful: There was a remarkably powerful correlation between the size of an immigrant’s self-reported social network and his or her likelihood of achieving success. Nearly half of respondents (44%) who reported currently having “many” friends and family in the U.S. to rely on had achieved earnings success, compared to 30% of those with “a few” and just 25% of respondents with “no” friends and family to rely on in the U.S.
  • English Really Matters: Across the board, stronger English language skills were correlated with virtually every possible measure of immigrant economic success. Nearly half of respondents (40%) who reported speaking English as their primary language had achieved earnings success.
  • Immigrants Take An Enterprising Approach: Immigrants demonstrated an enterprising, multipronged approach to establishing their American careers. A majority of respondents had applied for foreign academic credential evaluation. Self-improvement strategies – such as enrolling in English language classes or pursuing additional U.S. higher education – were also commonly pursued.
  • “Made in America” Boosts Employability: Immigrants who had invested in additional U.S. education were more likely to be employed and successful than those who had only received education abroad.
  • Time + Acculturation Help Drive Success: The virtuous cycle of acculturation, social capital and time combined to foster greater success among respondents who had lived in the U.S. for at least six years. In particular, these respondents had on average significantly higher incomes, lower rates of unemployment, and better English skills. They were also more likely to have volunteered in their communities, and were twice as likely to say they had “many” friends and family compared to respondents who arrived in the U.S. more recently.
  • Newshounds Are Also Volunteers: Intriguingly, there was a strong, statistically significant relationship between the number of news sources that a respondent reported using, and his or her likelihood of serving as a volunteer. These indicators of civic integration may also help to improve the understanding of economic integration among immigrant professionals.

Read the full report.

Watch a webinar on the report findings.

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