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Immigrants Skills Repository

An entity that harnesses the top skill of each immigrant and delivers it where it can make the most impact in exchange for monetary gain.

Photo of Shemeon Williams

Written by

What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Problem - Displaced Venezuelans in Latin America and the Caribbean are not quickly being absorbed into the workforce. As a result they are easy victims of abuse, drug and human trafficking. Root Causes - Barriers immigrants face such as a different language and a lack of knowledge of the geography and social constructs of a new country is compounded by the desperation to provide for their basic needs. This results in immigrants accepting jobs or doing tasks that degrade their humanity. How the Solution Works - 1)John, an immigrant enters a country, afraid and uncertain. Although he is with a group of persons he does not know he has a single point of contact. 2) The point of contact tells him to reach out to ISR (Immigrant Skills Repository), someone in the group also mentions ISR. 3) ISR points him to the nearest group of NGOs that may assist him (food, shelter or clothing) and takes some basic information including his top skills he possesses. 4) ISR assesses John to ensure if he is fit for work or if further retooling is required. 5) Local or International entities reach out to ISR for a specific skill or task and John is selected for work either at the client's site or within ISR. 6) John returns to ISR to receive payment each Saturday where he receives classroom training sessions to help him integrate better into this new society.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

Latin America and the Caribbean as they are currently affected by mass displacement from countries in South America (e.g. Venezuela)

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

Allowing for top skills and talents to boost the country's economy and innovation.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

This idea allows for an individual to practice and realize their God given skillset, occupation or talent.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

The idea would prevent masses of persons being mistreated and pushed into leading a life of crime. Success would be defined by immigrants, though displaced, they are still contributing to building the society.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

As a resident of Trinidad and Tobago, I see the effects of the displacement of Venezuelans. As part of the YLAI (Young Leaders of the America's Initiative) I traveled to Peru to assist a fellow YLAIer and got the opportunity to speak to a Peruvian US Embassy representative. That conversation made me realize how widespread the displacement issue, its impact on the Latin and Caribbean region and the Government and large corporations' inability to respond. We asked a Venezuelan immigrant doing well in Peru what his fellow counterparts needed and he responded quickly and simply...."Jobs!" Upon returning home, I heard a podcast about social entrepreneur Marcela Torres who launched a Mexico City-based startup that paid young people (and persons deported from the US) to learn to code. Thus the idea was finalized....Although there are many charitable entities that assist the immigrants, even good deeds must be sustainable. An entrepreneurial counterpart to charity would be necessary.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

1. Themes or insights that stood out across interviews were many immigrants were willing to accept jobs far below their current skill set due to non-acceptance or abuse. Large scale businesses are unable to help due to their complex policies which does not take displacement issues into consideration. Medium scale local businesses were fearful of absorbing too many immigrants because of backlash from the existing workforce. 2. Based on our feedback from the people we interviewed and connected with, an improvement on our product/service/model that we are interested in exploring is a social awareness campaign to educate and encourage local to be more accepting of immigrants. 3. The biggest potential to build bridges across divided groups in our work is winning the popular opinion about accepting immigrants.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

There are many people willing to help immigrants and this idea will make it sustainable for them to do it.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

La Romaine Migrant Support Group Young Leaders of the America's Initiative US Embassy Trinidad and Tobago Various Parishioners of Couva-Talparo

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Platform: Creating a community or market that facilitates interaction between users and resources

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Blueprint: We are exploring the idea and gathering the inspiration and information we need to test it with real users.

Group or Organization Name

Luvo Cinematography

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Luvo Cinematography is a social entrepreneurship seeking to change the world through changing the way people see it.

Website URL:

www.luvocinematography.com

Type of submitter

  • We are a For-Profit Startup or Startup Social Enterprise

Organization Headquarters: Country

Trinidad & Tobago

Organization Headquarters: City / State

Couva

12 comments

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Comment
Spam
Photo of Srirama Pallavi
Team

amazing post about skills https://unlockmytv.fun/

Spam
Photo of Joanne Wang
Team

Hi Shemeon,

I enjoyed reading about your idea. I think ISR would serve as a good middlemen between immigrants and business entities in need of labor. I was wondering if you have researched on other organizations that also help immigrants pick up new skills find employment? What are some of the achievements and difficulties that these organizations have encountered, and would there be any overlap or opportunities of partnership between ISR and the existing organizations?

Spam
Photo of Omotola williams
Team

Shemeon Williams , I like your idea, it help prevent immigrants from making poor choices as they try to settle into a new environment. However, I would like to say that you need to think through how to put a system in place where ISR will be introduced to immigrants as soon as they arrive.

Spam
Photo of Ellie Adelman
Team

I love the focus on pairing existing skills with added transitional resources Shemeon Williams . Similar to what we're trying to do at The Village Institute. I think your point about being pushed into work that might be dangerous or exploitative is an important one.

Spam
Photo of Uchenna Okafor
Team

Quite interesting to understand that your organisation receives and prepares displaced immigrants for integration in their new countries. However, what is your design for disabled persons among them? Of course, disabled persons suffer more discrimination and rejection than any other vulnerable group, especially during emergency and disaster. Having demonstrated abilities in disability, it is clear that disability is not inability. So, you may stretch your design a little to include them for training and job placement.

Spam
Photo of Uchenna Okafor
Team

Quite interesting to understand that your organisation receives and prepares displaced immigrants for integration in their new countries. However, what is your design for disabled persons among them? Of course, disabled persons suffer more discrimination and rejection than any other vulnerable group, especially during emergency and disaster. Having demonstrated abilities in disability, it is clear that disability is not inability. So, you may stretch your design a little to include them for training and job placement.

Spam
Photo of Zulfiqar Deo
Team

Thanks for the sharing this. One of the biggest concerns people have with refugees is their legal status i.e. so they have the right to work. It may be an idea to make it prominent how you help with this or if it needed at all. Look forward to seeing how you scale this up.

Spam
Photo of Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk
Team

Dear Shemeon,

Although in a very different setting your proposition has a number of elements that possess thought similarity with my Refival initiative which mainly addresses Syrian refugees in Europe and targets to optimize their adaptation via voluntary temporary relocation to rural incubator villages.

The question is always one of supply and demand on the labor market and one of educational deficits. In my case the gap to be bridged takes on average 5 years (most refugees have no local language knowledge) whereas most people reside at those locations that offer them the best welfare conditions. The result is that most government money (billions of USD per year) is spent on subsistence cost and little is invested to educate people.

The solution I propose is to use a two-step approach where refugees voluntarily relocate to cheaper living cost deprived areas and in turn receive much more investment in bridging their educational gaps. My primary target is not to save on budgets, but to speed-up refugee adaptation, which in the end is a win-win for everyone involved.

At the same time are in my case disadvantaged communities more willing to socially receive newcomers and due to their smaller size there also is more interaction, avoiding the risk of parallel societies as these easily come into existence in Europe's major cities.

I realize that in your geographical area the ageing of rural populations will likely be less of an issue yet, but this is a likely matter of time, any type of deprived area almost always needs economical diversification and disadvantaged groups need affirmative action to be included, I call this process inclusion sourcing (www.openideo2017.refival.org).

A second element is the dependency perception of people, the solution I propose is to not give welfare but to give Universal Basic Employment instead, it means to redefine the definition of work and include all positive contributions to society as being employment for which people receive an income (this includes educating themselves, in my case learning a new language is part of the "job" they get paid for). The fact that refugees visually contribute to society will increase the solidarity with them (www.openideo2018.refival.org). An interesting initiative with some similarity is https://gsbtb.org/

I realize that the situation in your area is very different from ours, but maybe there are nevertheless useful thought elements in my work.

Kind Regards,

Hans van Nieuwkerk
www.docs.refival.org
www.openideo2019.refival.org

Spam
Photo of Shemeon Williams
Team

Dear Johannes,
Wow!!! I did not imagine that posting my idea here would result in such brilliant insight and amazing feedback from the next side of the globe! Thank you!! I will definitely incorporate your contributions moving forward. You have stressed a lot on perception and I too have found this to be a major issue here as well. I like the concept of Universal Basic Employment, the mandatory learning of the local language and the targeting of specific communities to build up.

Interestingly enough, we have a small number of Syrian refugees here in Trinidad. However they do not ask for help nor do they require it. Most (I apologize for the generalization here) set up a gyro cart to sell food. They work hard at it and do very well. Over the past five years gyros have become a phenomenon in my country. Inclusion of the Syrian population here in Trinidad has been quite an example of retooling immigrants with an entrepreneurial skill!
Perhaps, if we took something common from their culture that could add value in another and attached a bit of entrepreneurship to it the time to bridge the gap could be shortened?

Warmest Regards,
Shemeon Williams

Spam
Photo of Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk
Team

Dear Shemeon,

The Syrian refugees are not a homogeneous population but in Europe (housing about 1-2 million people & Turkey housing almost 4 million people) they reflect all the differences one can find in a normal society.

Not sure how the Syrian refugees arrived to Trinidad, but they may statistically differ in their educational and entrepreneurial skills background compared to Europe, where it on average takes 5 years of welfare dependency before refugees can connect to the labor market.

My very rough division is that 10-20% of the refugees arriving to Europe are either "sufficiently educated" to connect to the labor market within a 1-2 year time-frame or possess sufficient entrepreneurial skills to manage self-supportiveness in such a time-frame. Almost all NGOs in Europe who target labor market integration focus on assisting this group and there are fortunately good results.

Refival therefore instead focuses on the group below this group of the 30-40% of refugees who face education deficits and who do not connect that easily. Most people in this group will have to learn their first foreign language, not all being young, not all being entrepreneurial. This group in general needs a number of years of assistance to be able to connect properly, but it has the educational potential to do so.

Finally, there is a group of about 50% who do not possess much education and who are very difficult to match with the specialized demands of the European labor market (this may be different in Trinidad). Refival does not focus on this group, but very likely there will be a spin-off as soon as rural communities are revitalized and economically sustainable again.

Other than in urban areas, there will likely be more employment for non-educated people in a rural setting, but the rural economical sustainability must be based on connecting to modernity, unfortunately requiring proper specialized education.

In respect to Gyros I am very happy to hear that this works in Trinidad! In Europe I am afraid that this type of business is slowly but surely saturated because we have countless small business like that by now. Keep also in mind that business in Europe is very regulated both permit- and tax-wise, there is not much of an informal economy here. Another business segment where Syrian refugees often do well are bakeries and manufacturing sweets.......

To conclude, the integration/adaptation potential depends a lot on which refugee segment one wants to address. Some refugees arriving to Europe acquired a lot of survival skills which can be useful for entrepreneurship, others (many) are unfortunately traumatized and would prefer a normal stable job and take care of their families and to forget their period of survival..... For this group (like for almost anyone) education is key: https://medium.com/@refival/world-refugee-day-educating-refugee-children-3aeaa94c1182

Maybe we should setup a Skype call to brainstorm a bit about further options.

Warm Regards from Budapest,

Hans van Nieuwkerk
www.docs.refival.org
www.openideo2019.refival.org

Spam
Photo of Cristina Harvey
Team

These initiative its just located at the south of the country? If so there is a posibility to create cells in different areas of the country or key points to achieve it more easier. Because these is very interesting project.

Spam
Photo of Shemeon Williams
Team

Hi Cristina,
I want this initiative to be executed throughout Latin America and the Caribbean....and perhaps wherever there are refugees in need.

Shem