From the Director: Detroit Breaks More New Ground – Governor Snyder and Upwardly Global Launch Michigan Office and First “Global Engineers in Residence” (GEIR) Program

By Steve Tobocman

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Almost one year to the date of Upwardly Global’s launch of its online licensing guides, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Detroit Mayor Michael Duggan, Detroit City Councilman Andre Spivey and about one dozen ethnic chambers joined to celebrate the launch of Upwardly Global’s fourth office.  The Detroit office will provide work authorized skilled immigrants and refugees with face-to-face customized training to help them integrate into Michigan’s workforce.  Immigrants and refugees wishing to access UpGlo’s services can start here.

The kickoff of Upwardly Global’s Detroit office (housed in the Michigan State University Detroit offices on Woodward in Midtown) lays another brick in the economic development foundation recommended by the Global Detroit 2010 strategy document. It reflects over four years of work to bring Upwardly Global to our region.

In addition to the office, today’s announcement included expanding the Global Engineers in Residence (GEIR) Project to Michigan, allowing foreign-trained engineers the opportunity to work with Upwardly Global to build the soft skills, as well as connections to employers, educational institutions, and professional networks they will need to rebuild their professional careers in America.  Employers will be able to work with GEIR to connect with global talent without an obligation of having to make a permanent hiring decision.  The innovative model already has proven effective in Chicago, but today’s announcement makes Michigan the first state to endorse the program.

Noting some 25,000 current job openings in engineering, IT, and other STEM fields in Metro Detroit alone, Upwardly Global hopes to help fill needed positions in our regional economy in a way that not only doesn’t take jobs away from incumbent talent, but that grows local businesses so that more jobs are created.  Citing the Partnership for a New American Economy’s research that each job filled by a skilled international creates 2.6 additional jobs in the economy, UpGlo Director Nikki Ciccerani laid out how the new office will have positive impacts beyond the skilled immigrants and refugees they serve.

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America is home to nearly 2 million skilled immigrants and refugees who possess the education and practical experience to be valued professionals in the workforce, but who are underemployed or unemployed mostly due to their inability to navigate and connect with the pathways to professional employment.  In fact, immigrant and refugee professionals are 1.5 times as likely as their native born counterparts to be underemployed or unemployed.

By assisting Michigan’s skilled immigrants and refugees, Global Detroit, the Michigan Office for New Americans, and Upwardly Global hope to put the state ahead in integrating skilled immigrants and refugees who can help meet Michigan unmet talent needs.  Combined with the Welcoming Michigan campaign, the Global Detroit Welcome Mat, the Global Talent Retention Initiative, and ProsperUS programs emanating from the Global Detroit report, our region has now launched a diverse array of programs that will enable us to take advantage of any federal immigration reform in welcoming and successfully integrating immigrants, refugees and New Americans to our community and economy.

Finally, it was great to see Mayor Duggan and Councilman Spivey make such supportive remarks at today’s event.  We look forward to working with them to launch programming specific to the working class residents in Detroit who also contribute significantly to our economic success.

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