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Philly’s new ‘academy’ aims to help immigrants navigate the U.S. workplace

Deputy Director of OIA Symbol Lai at the first Immigrant Workers Academy this past Saturday. May 7, 2018 Category: FeaturedPurposeShort
U.S. immigrants face a plethora of challenges, not the least of which is acclimating to new jobs with sometimes-unfair wage practices.

In response to those challenges, the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA) held the first session of its Immigrant Workers Academy (IWA) on Saturday, May 5.

The new series of trainings is designed to equip immigrants with the tools and knowledge to successfully navigate America’s workplace culture, and to be able to champion fair workplace conditions.

“The Immigrant Workers Academy is a true testament to a collaborative effort between community non-profits, advocacy organizations, social service providers and labor unions,” said OIA Deputy Director Symbol Lai in an email. “The program allows us to pool resources to address important challenges faced by immigrant workers.”

Lai also serves as the program manager for the IWA.

Although the program is the first of its kind offered by the City of Philadelphia, programs with similar missions — such as Mt. Airy USA’s Philadelphia Immigrant Innovation Hub and Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians’ Immigrant Leadership Institute — have served Philly immigrants previously.

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The first training, which was also made accessible in French and Haitian Creole, was held at Southwest Philadelphia nonprofit AFRICOM and geared toward the community’s African-Caribbean population.

“Our hope is to be able to bring the program/curriculum to every immigrant community,” said OIA Director Miriam Enriquez via email. “Each time we hope to partner with a local organization in the neighborhood that works with the local immigrant community and hold classes in collaboration with them.”

The next training will be held on Oct. 25 at Northeast Philadelphia’s Oxford Circle Christian Community Development Association.

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Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs

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