Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Foreign Born Talent: Optional Practical Training

Richard Herman has an article about strategies to tap into foreign born talent in the latest issue of the Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership. I'm familiar with Mr. Herman's ideas, but I still found the angle refreshing and thought provoking. Instead of lobbying for changes in US immigration law, Mr. Herman offers a practical approach to attracting immigrants to Cleveland working within the existing legal framework. One suggestion is Optional Practical Training:

Recent changes in immigration law now extend work authorization for international students graduating from science, technology, engineering, or math programs from 12 months to 29 months, without requiring any sponsorship by the employer.This work authorization is called Optional Practical Training and is secured for the student by the university.There are more than 500,000 international students currently studying in the U.S.

Dramatically increasing immigration to Cleveland or other Rust Belt cities is unrealistic without some significant changes to current US immigration law. However, that doesn't mean your shrinking city can't up the number of foreign born residing there. A good start would be the mapping of foreign born domestic migration, a flow that I rarely see discussed.

While researching my invective about the struggles of Propel Pittsburgh, I was intrigued with the following provocation:

In the meantime, despite all these slings and arrows, we actually have gotten some work done, particularly about immigration. More on that in a future post.

You can read more about Propel Pittsburgh's interest in immigration here. Optional Practical Training might be a useful avenue for them to explore. They should also check out Cleveland's Talent Blueprint Project. Of course, I'd like to see some Cleveburgh collaboration on this issue and I hope to explore that idea further at PodCamp Pittsburgh.

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