Legislation could impact $646M annually in U.S. economy
“In light of the Fall of Kabul, nearly a year ago today, we are remembering the hard journey that our new Afghan neighbors have faced. We are eager to commit ourselves to supporting their inclusion in our workforce and communities, where they have so much to contribute. The memory of Afghans at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, crowding into the first career center that Upwardly Global set up there with the help of the military and key donors, so eager to restart their lives and contribute to U.S. society, is forever etched in our organization’s memory. Upwardly Global is grateful to be of service to Afghans and all immigrants and refugees to this country.”
-Jina Krause-Vilmar, President and CEO, Upwardly Global
The withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in August of 2021 set off the largest resettlement of refugees in modern U.S. history. Since Operation Allies Welcome, approximately 80,000 Afghan newcomers have been relocated to our country. Leveraging two decades of experience advancing workforce inclusion for refugee and immigrant professionals (including support for over 1,800 Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) recipients during the past decade), Upwardly Global set up rapid response computer centers and career services at all eight U.S. military bases serving as Safe Havens for new arrivals. We met thousands of Afghan newcomers with international credentials and professional experience, many in high demand sectors. To date, we are working with these individuals to restart their careers and contribute to our workforce at their skill levels.
At this anniversary, we want to share what we’ve learned through numbers and stories. Our hope is to strengthen the community of people committed to taking concrete steps to support Afghan newcomers and to advancing immigrant and refugee inclusion.
Approximately 10,000 Afghan newcomers have college degrees or higher level credentials. Their skills and talent are needed in the U.S. workforce; many have expertise across in-demand fields like health care, technology, and engineering. Despite the trauma of war, displacement, and resettlement, these individuals are eager to find employment at their skill level, to support their families, and to integrate into their new communities.
Since August 2021, we have placed over 250 Afghan newcomers into jobs that align with their experience and skill set, with an average income gain of over $60,000. Thousands more accessed and utilized our rapid response portal for online, self-paced career services. We will continue to serve the job seekers we’ve brought on board for our coaching program, knowing that the professional job search takes on average between six and eighteen months.
Though we are still operationalizing our support for Afghan newcomers, some key learnings have emerged: