On August 5, NOVA’s Alexandria Campus partnered with the City of Alexandria to host a resource fair for skilled immigrants called “Rebuild Your Professional Career in the U.S.” at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center. The purpose of the event was to provide a forum for conversation and the opportunity for community members and professionals to share their experience and learn about strategies for job searching, credentials and training.
Daniel Mekibib, program manager for the City of Alexandria Workforce Development Center, said their goal in creating the event was to provide key information that skilled immigrants in the Alexandria area can use to help get back into the professions in which they were previously trained in their home countries.
According to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), immigrants accounted for 17 percent of the civilian labor force in 2014. Thirty percent worked in management or a related occupation for their field of study. Mekibib explained that one in four residents in the Northern Virginia area was born in another country and skilled immigrants are more likely to be unemployed, under employed or working in a field other than their trained profession.
During the welcoming remarks, Alexandria Provost M. Annette Haggray acknowledged that those who received college degrees and/or training in their profession before moving to the U.S. often come up against some challenges in translating those skills in America. She encouraged them to take advantage of the resource fair and also take time to look into opportunities and programs at NOVA. Haggray said NOVA was happy and eager to partner with the City of Alexandria and other organizations to provide an opportunity for those in Alexandria and surrounding areas.
“We know this event and the activities you’ll participate in today will provide a tremendous benefit to you,” Haggray said to the participants. “It is my belief that if we can help enhance the quality of the lives of the residents in this area, then we also enhance our community.”
Speakers included Hadya Abdul Sata of Upwardly Global, Senay H. Gebremedhin of World Education Services (WES)-Global Talent Bridge and Nicole Rawlings of Fairfax County Human Rights & Equity Programs. The panelists presented information about effective strategies for rebuilding a professional career in the U.S., navigating the credential evaluation process and knowing your employment rights as a legal immigrant.
The resource fair broke out into different, industry-focused sessions and also allowed community members to network with various organizations. A few representatives from local organizations also shared their success stories and their journey to gaining employment after moving to the U.S.
A number of local organizations and NOVA departments worked together to organize this event. Sponsors included NOVA’s Alexandria Campus, NOVA Workforce Development, Fairfax County SkillsSource Center, City of Alexandria Workforce Development Center, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, Migration and Refugee Services of the Catholic Charities of Diocese of Arlington, World Education Services (WES)-Global Talent Bridge and Upwardly Global.