Sunday, November 09, 2008

Report laments 'brain waste' of skilled immigrants

This immigrant from Peru, who was a surgeon there, can only find work here walking dogs. Such a waste!. Many other immigrants have the same problem, they need help with English and upgrading of their skills and they could get back into the professions they were trained for. DP

By Teresa Watanabe | Los Angeles Times

As a physician in Peru, Luis Garcia amassed nine years of medical education and five years of practice, including successful appendectomies, Caesarean deliveries and other surgeries. Since he immigrated to Southern California four years ago, he has earned a community college degree specializing in geriatrics.

But the only work he's been able to find has been cat-sitting, dog-walking and elder care.

That's because Garcia hasn't yet been able to pass the battery of requirements for a U.S. medical license, including several exams and a residency. He represents what a new report calls a massive "brain waste" of highly educated and skilled immigrant professionals who potentially could, with a little aid, help ease looming labor shortages nationwide in health care, computer sciences and other skilled jobs.

"I feel lost," Garcia said. "Sometimes I'm embarrassed to talk to my family back home and tell them I'm taking care of dogs. But I know someday I will be able to do my geriatrics practice, and I know there are people here who need my help."

Nationwide, more than 1.3 million college-educated immigrants are unemployed or working in unskilled jobs such as dishwashers or taxi drivers, according to the report by the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute.

Professionals from Latin America and Africa fared worse than those from Asia and Europe, the study found. Two of the biggest barriers were lack of English fluency and nonrecognition of foreign academic and professional criteria.

In some cases, for instance, U.S. medical systems require different course work typically not required abroad, such as maternity and psychiatric nursing, according to Julie Hughes-Lederer, interim director of the Los Angeles County Regional Health Occupations Resource Center.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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