Benchmarks of Success Issue 23, February 2021

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Monthly Newsletter  -  Issue 23, February 2021

The Skilled Immigrant Task Force - Leveraging a Powerful Talent Pipeline

According to the American Immigration Council, one in seven Maryland residents is foreign born. Maryland’s immigrant population is well educated; nearly 45% of the adult immigrants who make their home in Maryland hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher and/or possess occupational skills that are in high demand with employers. Skilled immigrants with extensive education and occupational experience gained abroad comprise a valuable talent pipeline for employers seeking workers with specialized skills.

While the supply and demand in this equation may seem solidly aligned, skilled immigrant jobseekers often face barriers that complicate their ability to secure employment in their field of expertise. Skilled immigrants may confront a range of challenges, such as limited English language proficiency, costly credential evaluations of their foreign degrees, complex licensing and recertification processes, a lack of professional networks and/or knowledge of alternative career pathways.

Maryland’s Department of Labor and Department of Human Services jointly established and continue to co-lead the Skilled Immigrant Task Force to help address the issues foreign-trained professionals face so that they can help supply employers with the talent they need. The Task Force believes that the State of Maryland can lead the way in creating a win-win environment in which immigrants secure jobs matching their professional and educational backgrounds while helping the business community more readily meet its workforce needs. The group's membership brings together a consortium of stakeholders that includes representatives of community colleges, refugee resettlement agencies, the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives, and other immigrant-serving organizations.

Learn more about the Task Force’s efforts:

Resources created by the Task Force:


Eun Young Hong

Meet New Americans Initiative Coordinator Eun Young Hong

Frontline staff serving job seekers who are foreign born know that these customers often benefit from specialized employment resources. New Americans Initiative Coordinator Eun Young Hong at Maryland’s Department of Labor plays an important role in providing the system with these resources. Eun Young works to strengthen service access and quality, coordinate partner resources, and develop supportive tools. She brings considerable education and professional expertise to her position, along with a rich background of personal experiences as a New American herself. 

Since this month’s newsletter focuses on career services for New American job seekers, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to invite Eun Young to share a little bit about her own career journey, a journey that serendipitously led her to what she calls her dream job as New Americans Initiative Coordinator. Here is what Eun Young had to say:

“My first visit to the United States was as an exchange student during my sophomore year in college. Four exciting weeks in America was enough to convince me that this country would be an important part of my future! I returned to my home in South Korea to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education, specializing in Taekwondo, followed by a Master’s degree in Global Cultural Contents. 

I made my second trip to the United States with an eye turned towards pursuing a doctorate in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Management. While taking classes to improve my English in preparation for that next big educational effort, I discovered an interest in linguistics and speech therapy. I completed a certificate program in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) at the University of California San Diego, and then moved to the east coast to study Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). To further strengthen my English fluency I took a job as a local television reporter, covering politics and culture. I moved on to Maryland State government, where I held a series of positions that included a role in the Office of First Lady Yumi Hogan and finally, the role I now hold as New Americans Initiative Coordinator. 

My experience as a New American has taught me that living in a country far away from one’s home country takes a lot of courage and determination. Naturally, I feel nostalgia for my home and family in South Korea, but I consider Maryland as my second home. I am deeply grateful to have the opportunity to help other immigrants overcome challenges so that they can realize their career potential and make Maryland a second home where they can live, work and raise their families.”

For more information on Labor’s New Americans Initiative, visit the New Americans webpage. New Americans Initiative Coordinator Eun Young welcomes questions and the opportunity to promote the services her office supports. You can reach Eun Young at


COVID-19 Corner

Work Requirements Suspended for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped the nation for a year now has had a profound impact on workers, leaving many unemployed with limited safe options for work opportunities. On March 17, 2020, the Department of Human Services suspended work requirements for all beneficiaries under SNAP. The suspension of work requirements has remained in place and will continue for the duration of this public health emergency. The latest Departmental updates and COVID-related resources can be found on the Department of Human Services’ website.

Quick Resources

Benchmarks of Success Resource Page

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Resource Page

Maryland’s State Workforce Plan


Upcoming 2021 Newsletters

3/23, 4/20, 5/25, 6/22, 7/20, 8/24, 9/21, 10/26, 11/23



Download and share the Benchmarks of Success poster, rack card, and two-sided flyer!

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Abdul Fatah Waziri - Refugee Social Service Employment Program with the Ethiopian Community Development Council

Abdul Fateh Waziri

Mr. Abdul Fateh Waziri moved to the United States on a Special Immigration Visa (SIV) program. He participated in the Refugee Social Service (RSS) Employment Program with the Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Mr. Waziri has a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering and more than five years of experience in construction quality control projects. While he had multiple professional certificates from Afghanistan, he needed to fine-tune his résumé to demonstrate his skills and expertise. Mr. Waziri stated that following his intake with ECDC, he received job training to assist him with résumé and cover letter writing, understanding job sites, and U.S work culture. Following this, he began working with the ECDC Business Engagement team, which connected him to a network of local employers. Learn more...


Workforce Partners

Maryland Department of Labor                                                                  Maryland Department of Human Services

Maryland State Department of Education                                                Governor's Workforce Development Board

Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development                            Maryland Workforce Association

Did You Know...?

Maryland's Latest Workforce Development Updates

  • MD Labor Celebrates 2021 Black History Month - National Black History Month, also commonly referred to as African American History Month, is a nation-wide celebration observed each February to recognize the achievements and central role African Americans have played in the history of the United States (U.S.). American historian and author Dr. Carter G. Woodson established the first Black History Week nearly a century ago on February 12, 1926. The celebration took place during the second week of February for many years to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, two key figures in the history of African Americans. The celebration’s observance was expanded from a week to a month in 1976 as part of the nation’s bicentennial. Every U.S. president since then has proclaimed February as National Black History Month.

          To read the Black/African Americans’ inspiring success stories and testimonial and watch videos, please                  visit: Black History Month 2021.

          To see some fascinating statistics on Maryland’s Black/African American community today and learn about              some of the Black Americans and African American immigrants contributing to Maryland’s vitality and                      richness, download and share the new Black History Month 2021 flyer.

  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace - The movement towards greater diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is receiving increased recognition in the work world. Research has shown that the implementation of DEI principles and practices yield a wide range of benefits, including improved team performance, increased productivity and profits, higher levels of creativity and innovation and more. To begin to understand the expansive and evolving field of DEI, we went looking for basic definitions for the three central terms. We discovered a wealth of options, but ultimately selected definitions presented by the University of Edinburgh for their clarity and simplicity: 
    • Diversity is recognizing, respecting and celebrating each other's differences. A diverse environment is one with a wide range of backgrounds and mindsets, which allows for an empowered culture of creativity and innovation.
    • Equity means fairness: ensuring that individuals, or groups of individuals, are not treated less favorably because of their protected characteristics. Equity also means equality of opportunity: ensuring that those who may be disadvantaged can get the tools they need to access the same, fair opportunities as their peers. (Note: The term “protected characteristics” is referred to in U.S. federal law by the correlate term “protected group” or “protected class.” More information is available here.)
    • Inclusion means creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and valued. An inclusive environment can only be created when group members recognize their own unconscious biases and learn how to manage them.

           The national celebration of Black History Month is a great time to learn more about DEI and how                             this powerful approach can transform the workforce! Below are some excellent articles we curated                           to get you started!


Benchmarks of Success Newsletters


Benchmarks of Success Committee Updates

Committee Chairs welcome questions from newsletter readers regarding the work in which their groups are involved! To be connected with a committee's leadership team, feel free to contact the Communications Committee at

All committees are currently meeting virtually.

  • The Executive Steering Committee is composed of the agency leaders of the partner agencies who meet periodically to provide the WIOA Alignment Group with high-level guidance. You can learn more about the Executive Steering Committee’s ongoing activities here.
  • The WIOA Alignment Group is composed of the department and division-level leaders of partner agencies who meet on a monthly basis to collaboratively address issues, plan joint efforts, make recommendations to the Executive Steering Committee, and manage and guide the activities of the Benchmarks of Success committees. The WIOA Alignment Group meets on the last Monday of each month. The most recent meeting was held on February 22, 2021 and the next meeting is scheduled for March 29, 2021. You can learn more about the WIOA Alignment Group’s ongoing activities here.
  • The Data and Dashboard Committee is comprised of representatives from partner agencies who possess subject matter expertise in program-based performance requirements and data collection methodologies and tools. The Committee meets on a quarterly basis to develop a consistent, sustainable system all workforce partners can use to measure, analyze, display, and apply Benchmarks data to continuously improve the quality and effectiveness of services. The Committee’s most recent meeting was held on February 16, 2021. You can learn more about the Data and Dashboard Committee’s ongoing activities here.
  • The Communications Committee is comprised of representatives from partner agencies who possess subject matter expertise in programs and communications methods and tools. The Committee meets on a monthly basis to foster the integration of Maryland’s workforce system by broadly promoting the activities of the Benchmarks of Success committees and the services and resources of partner agencies and programs. The Committee produces this monthly newsletter as a forum for partners to share information on important developments that impact the system. The Committee held its most recent meeting on February 11, 2021. The group's next scheduled meeting will be held on March 11, 2021. You can learn more about the Communications Committee’s ongoing activities here.
  • The Policy Committee is comprised of representatives from partner agencies who possess subject matter expertise in workforce system policy issues. The Committee meets on a monthly basis to research policy issues and produces an annual Policy Recommendations Report. The recommendations included in the Report help to guide system priorities and initiatives. The Committee’s most recent meeting was held on November 19, 2020. The Committee’s next meeting is scheduled for March 18, 2021. You can learn more about the Policy Committee’s ongoing activities here.
  • The Professional Development and Technical Assistance Committee works to advance a unified professional development program that helps all partner programs maximize access to and use of skills and credentialing and life management skills, eliminate barriers to employment through the use of supportive services, and strengthen and enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the workforce system. The Committee held its most recent meeting on January 21, 2021. The next meeting is scheduled for March 18, 2021. You can learn more about the Professional Development and Technical Assistance Committee’s ongoing activities here.


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