Maine’s immigrants are well educated and skilled. Over 33% of Maine’s immigrants have either a bachelors or graduate degree, compared to just under 30% of native Mainers. Prior to coming to the U.S., many worked in professions that are badly needed in Maine, such as medicine and engineering, but find themselves unable to continue their careers here due to credentialing and licensing barriers. This results in tremendous “brain waste”.
The New Mainers Resource Center (NMRC), a part of Portland Adult Education and Portland Public Schools, has released Foreign Trained Professionals: Maine’s Hidden Talent Pool, a new report looking at the challenges highly skilled immigrants face in resuming their professions. Opaque guidance on the steps required to apply for licensure, high fees for credential evalutions and language testing, and lack of acceptance by registration boards of degrees and experience obtained abroad are among the factors that result in many immigrants having to take jobs far beneath their skill level, or to repeat their education in the U.S., or to choose new careers.
The report analyzes the problem through the lens of several professions in demand in Maine, including doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, accountants, and teachers. The report additionally makes recommendations for improvements to reduce the barriers that foreign trained and experienced professionals in these fields face.
The NMRC also has produced explanatory licensing guides to walk foreign trained professionals through the steps needed to attain licensure in each of the six professions examined in the report.
Maine cannot afford to have immigrants be unable to work to their fullest potential. The NMRC’s work may be the first step on the road to improvements. You can find the report here and the licensing guides here.