The Miami Dade College Foreign-Trained Professionals (FTP) program is a one-stop-shop for individuals with foreign academic credentials seeking to continue their careers in the United States. As such, the program provides academic guidance and support services for credit and non-credit students seeking information regarding the credentialization of foreign degrees, licensing, and certification courses. The goal of the program is to identify pathways that will allow students to maximize their previous educational and work experience to contribute to their new community in a professional capacity. To that end, the program identifies pathways that are both credit and non-credit.
The program also helps identify professional licenses, national certifications, employability workshops, and language acquisition options that will support the professional transition of our foreign-trained professionals.
Name of Community College: Miami Dade College
Title of Program: Foreign-Trained Professionals Program (https://www.mdc.edu/foreigntrainedprofessionals)
Type of Program: Career Services & Practices
Primary Division(s) or Department(s) Involved: The program is part of the College’s District Academic Affairs team and works closely with Student Services offices on all eight campuses.
Key Partners: Academic Affairs, Student Services, Community Education offices
Populations Served: Immigrants and International, Foreign-Trained Professionals.
Immigration status required: Lawful immigration status.
In this Article:
1. Need for Program
With a longstanding commitment to serving multiple and diverse communities, Miami Dade College (MDC) initiated in 2017 the Foreign-Trained Professionals Program (FTP). Designed to assist foreign nationals, as well as U.S. nationals with foreign credentials, FTP helps foreign-trained professionals identify and when possible obtain the necessary U.S. credentials to continue their careers stateside.
Benefits offered by the FTP include but are not limited to:
- Assistance with the evaluation of foreign credentials;
- Assistance with enrollment into English Language courses;
- Access to the FTP Co-Curricular Workshop series which focuses on employability skills;
- Seamless connection to the college’s Prior Learning Assessment Program which offers students an opportunity to earn college credit for professional experience;
- Assistance with identification and enrollment into certificate or degree programs; and,
- Assistance with identification of pathways leading to a quick return to professional careers.
2. Brief Description of Program
The MDC FTP is a one-stop-shop for individuals with foreign academic credentials seeking to continue their careers in the United States. The program provides academic guidance and support services for credit and non-credit students seeking information regarding the credentialization of foreign degrees, licensing, and certification courses. The goal of the program is to identify pathways that will allow students to maximize their previous educational and work experience to contribute to their new community in a professional capacity. To that end, the program identifies pathways that are both credit and non-credit. The program also helps to identify professional licenses, national certifications, employability workshops, and language acquisition options that will support the professional transition of our foreign-trained professionals.
3. Specific Population Served
The FTP assists foreign nationals with university credentials, as well as U.S. nationals with foreign credentials. Services are offered at all eight MDC campuses. This translates into a geographic span that begins in North Miami and ends in Homestead, Florida. FTP is Perkins funded so students must have legal immigration status to receive financial assistance with the evaluation and translation service. With that said, our office is very student-centric so we never turn anyone away. We redirect those in the asylum process to the MDC, REVEST Program. That office provides educational and support services to asylees, refugees, Cuban/Haitian Entrants, Amerasians, and Victims of Trafficking to help these students reach their personal, academic, and professional goals. Once the status of those students changes, they come back to our office for further assistance. Simply stated, we work as a team to avoid gaps to ensure that the student has consistent and accurate information as well as support.
4. Goals and Objectives
The goal of the program is to identify pathways that will allow students to maximize their previous educational and work experience to contribute to their new community in a professional capacity. To that end, the program identifies pathways that are both credit and non-credit. We also help identify professional licenses, national certifications, employability workshops, and language acquisition options that will support the professional transition of our foreign-trained professionals.
Through a series of co-curricular workshops, the program provides information that allows participants to identify pathways focusing on skill sets. For example, professionals with strong mathematics and science backgrounds are introduced to the Substitute Teaching certificate. Other popular options in the series include: Business Intelligence, Cyber Security, Paralegal, and Digital Marketing. The introduction of soft skills, such as resume writing and interviewing skills, round off the co-curricular workshop series. These employability skills provide the final steps towards their professional transition.
If a student receives an evaluation indicating that they do not have the equivalent of an Associates, Bachelor or Graduate degree following the FTP funded National Association of Credential Evaluation Services evaluation and translation, they are given various pathway options that maximize their professional experience. As part of that conversation, we introduce them to the Prior Learning Assessment office (https://www.mdc.edu/pla), which provides internationally trained students the opportunity to earn college credit for their professional experience earned abroad. The FTP office will set up an appointment so that students may learn about various options for fast-tracking their U.S. credentials.
Assistance with credentialization and language acquisition skills quickly leads to providing information about professional certification and licensing pathways. This, in turn, leads to the identification of pathways that are focused more on skills sets than titles. Information sessions introducing students to alternative pathways were therefore introduced into the FTP workshop roster. Our latest addition to the series focuses on employability skills and comes as a result of student surveys showing an interest in assisting with professional development.
The MDC FTP Program is fully supported by all of the Academic Affairs and Student Services offices of the institution. From our new Student Centers and Community Education offices that refer the prospects to our services to the Registrar and Financial Aid offices that share our resources with students, the institution as a whole helps us identify and assist foreign-trained professionals in the credentialization, certification, and licensing process. This is a group project, which involves faculty, staff, administrators, and students creating a supportive network.
7. Success Factors
Institutional support in reviewing and adjusting processes to address the credentialization of students with foreign degrees and transcripts has been critical. However, equally important is the support of colleagues across campuses and operational units who, despite a pandemic, continue to identify and refer students to the FTP office for assistance. Their commitment to this student population remains key to the successful transition of our foreign-trained professionals.
8. Challenges Faced
With the advent of Covid-19, Miami Dade College has transitioned to the online delivery of both curricular instructions and student services. To face this challenge, the FTP office has shifted our workshop series online. Webinars are now part of our increasing roster of services.
The office also houses a virtual FTP office on Blackboard that allows us to meet with both current and potential students. There have been some technical challenges to this shift as some prospects do not have internet access, a smartphone, or a computer. We have therefore also included conference calls and extended service hours to meet the needs of our population.
The new services have been well received. For the 2019/2020 cycle, we hosted about 20 workshops and webinars and conducted about six internal training sessions. We also honored over 400 individual appointment requests. However, it is important to note that the expansion of services in this new modality is a challenge for our small staff of one full-time and one half-time employee.
9. Funding and Sustainability
The MDC FTP program is Perkins funded and is therefore subject to a yearly funding process. The program has also been working with the College’s Development Office in an effort to identify additional funding sources that would allow us to expand services.
More information on the Foreign-Trained Professionals program and other best practices supporting skilled immigrant professionals is included in Working Together: How Immigrants and Their Partners Help Immigrants Succeed. (Rowman & Littlefield and American Association of Community Colleges, 2019). Also available on Amazon.
10. Contact Information
Name: Genevieve Colastin
Title: Director, Foreign-Trained Professionals Program
Organization: Miami Dade College
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone Number: 305-237-3810