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December 6, 2018

Report highlights Maine's 'hidden talent pool'

Courtesy / New Mainers Resource Center
Courtesy / New Mainers Resource Center
The 22-page report, “Foreign Trained Professionals: Maine's Hidden Talent Pool,” released this week, points to Maine's immigrant population, particularly those coming with college degrees and professional experience, as a “tremendous resource” to the state that could help address workforce needs.

About the New Mainers Resource Center

The New Mainers Resource Center is a program within Portland Adult Education serving area immigrants and refugees. It aims to help New Mainers overcome barriers in order to enter the U.S. workforce. It services include career guidance and employment case management, assistance with credential review and licensing requirements, intensive classes focused on job readiness skills, networking groups and workshops.

The hidden talents and skills of Maine's foreign trained professionals are highlighted in a new report by the New Mainers Resource Center that includes recommendations for tweaking licensing requirements for several key professions.

The 22-page report, "Foreign Trained Professionals: Maine's Hidden Talent Pool," released this week, points to Maine's immigrant population, particularly those coming with college degrees and professional experience, as a "tremendous resource" to the state that could help address workforce needs.

"Given this pool of experienced trained professionals it is well worth the attention and effort necessary to try to address the different barriers they face with licensing and help facilitate the entry of these foreign trained professionals into Maine's workforce at the fullest extent possible."

Its findings were based on an analysis of national and local licensing policies, a review of professional licensing for key professions in Maine, and the Resource Center's extensive experience working with foreign trained professionals.

"Licensing and credential evaluation are some of the most challenging aspects of a foreign trained professional's entry into the U.S. workforce," said Sally Sutton, program coordinator at the New Mainers Resource Center, in a statement.

She said one complication is that professional licensing in the United States is highly decentralized, with several groups at state and national level making decisions about who can work in a particular profession and how they must demonstrate their qualifications.

The report highlights the level of experience and high level of education that immigrants bring to Maine — a majority having a bachelor's degree or higher and experience in a range of economic sector.

It also calls for training and workforce initiatives in Maine to develop specific strategies for new Mainers---which it says are of particular concern for those who have degrees and experience that can and should form a foundation for any further education and training.

The report includes recommendations for improving certification and licensing in several professions, such as tuition reimbursement programs funded by employers. For lawyers, it calls on the Board of Bar Examiners to clarify which application procedures apply to applicants from out of state versus those from another country, and for other professional boards to consider how they might be able to predetermine whether a candidate's education meets the licensing requirements.

"This will allow the candidate to know at the beginning of the process if they qualify to move forward with the rest of the licensing process," it notes.

Besides the report, the center released professional licensing guides for foreign-trained physicians, nurses, engineers, teachers, lawyers and accountants detailing how to navigate complex requirements to practice in Maine.

Read more:

Link to PDF of "Foreign Trained Professionals: Maine's Hidden Talent Pool" report.

Link to licensing guides.

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