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Howard Community College Skilled Immigrant Program – A Road to Career Success for New Americans

Mary Barton talks to a job seeker

Mary Barton is the English Language Center Enrollment, Transitions, and Outreach Coordinator at Howard Community College, and she knows a thing or two about the challenges New Americans - immigrants, refugees, asylees, temporary and long-term visitors from other countries – often face when trying to enter the U.S. workforce. Housing, dependent care, education, and employment are a few of the most common obstacles. The good news is that Mary and the team of dedicated staff with whom she works at the Skilled Immigrant Program at Howard Community College work hard every day to help these individuals build a brighter economic future, by connecting them with the supportive services and employment and training resources they need to overcome their challenges and achieve their career goals.

The focus of the Skilled Immigrant Program is to help participants navigate to the highest level job aligned with their knowledge, skills, and abilities. The program includes two courses. The first is a four week, 16-hour intensive course that covers essential topics, including an introduction to the United States job culture, career exploration and resume writing. The second is a six week, 30-hour course that features professional career counseling, tutoring in pronunciation, interview preparation, and mentorship from industry leaders.

Recalling the genesis of the Skilled Immigrant Program, Mary notes, “It began as a training program funded by the banking sector to prepare multilingual applicants. The program was so successful in meeting employer needs, other sectors in the business community jumped onboard. Over time, we’ve expanded beyond banking to serve internationally trained and experienced professionals in the business, science and technology, human services and education sectors.”

“Skilled Immigrant Program staff come from the standpoint of valuing the importance of a multilingual individual’s education, training, and experience,” Mary says, in explaining the program’s success. “For example, a participant may have been an engineer in their country of origin, but their lack of a U.S.-recognized credential may be a barrier to working under the formal job title of an engineer in this country. Instead of zeroing in on the barrier, we look at the opportunities for working with an engineer. We focus on identifying participants’ transferable skills, and working with them to map out unique training and employment paths that coordinate all of our resources and get them as close as possible to their full professional potential.”

Thanks to Mary and her team for making Maryland’s workforce stronger and more diverse!

Do you know someone who could benefit from the services the Skilled Immigrant Program at Howard Community College offers? The Program currently enrolls up to 15 participants per course cycle. Registrants need not be residents of Howard County, but they should be work-authorized and open to traveling to work in Central Maryland. Once enrolled in the program, participants will gain access to support services located at Howard Community College, such as the Career Services Center. To learn more about the Skilled Immigrant Program, please visit