Mosaic Professional Connector Program Highlighted in Pittsburgh Story

Pittsburgh Connector aims to help foreign-born professionals build solid networks in Pittsburgh

For immigrants who worked as skilled professionals in their home countries, arriving in a new place with no connections can be difficult and disorienting.

The new Pittsburgh Connector program hopes to make it easier for skilled workers arriving here to meet locals who share the same professions.

The concept is simple but potentially life-changing for those who get involved: In order to qualify, an immigrant, refugee or international student must be able to communicate in English, have some level of professional experience and be eligible to work in the U.S. Applicants who meet those standards will be matched with a professional in their field for a 30-minute conversation.

There is no guarantee of a job or even solid leads for jobs. But after the initial meeting, the Pittsburgh-based professional will then make introductions to three similarly skilled individuals, who in turn will introduce the newcomer to three more people. Slowly, the new resident begins building a network of contacts and gets an inside view of the local landscape.

“There are far too many barriers for foreign-born professionals to really advance,” says Betty Cruz, director of the Change Agency, which is administering the program. Ideally, this program will take care of the barrier that comes from not knowing anyone here.

Cruz says similar programs have proven to be popular in Canada and been implemented in Detroit and St. Louis.

Cruz emphasizes that the program isn’t limited to any one type of foreign-born job seeker: “It’s not just about the engineers and the scientists and the doctors. It’s also about people with a range of skills,” she says. “There are also professionals with varying degrees and backgrounds who would be a tremendous value to our workforce and economy.”

Recent research shows notably fewer immigrant residents in Pittsburgh compared to similarly sized cities.

According to New American Economy, which is a group of Republican, Democratic and Independent mayors and business leaders who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans, there are approximately 80,600 immigrant residents in the Pittsburgh metro area. That’s about 3.4 percent of our population. These immigrants paid $918 million in taxes and have a spending power of $2.3 billion.

Compare that to St. Louis, with a similar metro population (2.8 million to Pittsburgh’s 2.4): They have 122,000 immigrants benefitting their economy by paying $1.1 billion in taxes, with a spending power of $3 billion.


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