A- A+

Foreign-Born Talent

Foreign-born individuals are key drivers of population in our region and in most major cities. According to the New American Economy (NAE), immigrants comprise 7.9% of the Des Moines metro area population and have $1.1 billion in spending power. The data also indicates that there are 2,644 immigrant entrepreneurs in the metro area (New American Economy, 2019). During this same period, the foreign-born population grew 25.1%, from 38,970 to 48,760 people. Foreign-born residents contributed $3.2 billion to the metro’s GDP and $100 million in state and local taxes in 2014.

The United States has long been a top destination for the world's best and brightest. However, it has fallen short when it comes to fully tapping the skills and training of these newcomers. According to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), foreign-born college graduates in 2019 were more likely to be underemployed or underutilized than U.S.-born graduates: 21 percent versus 16 percent. This skill underutilization — often referred to as brain waste — comes at a significant cost to families and the U.S. economy: underemployed or underutilized college-educated immigrants in the United States miss out on almost $40 billion in wages annually and federal, state and local governments combined lose out on more than $10 billion in taxes as a result (Migration Policy Institute, 2021).

This large pool of untapped talent among foreign-born is a valuable source of talent for Iowa employers.

To shed light on this important group of talent, provide support to foreign-born individuals and connect them with Iowa employers, The Partnership launched Global DSM: International Talent Initiative.

Foreign Born Talent

What The Partnership Provides to Foreign-Born Talent 

  • Navigating Employment — The Partnership’s team can offer support and guidance to help learn workplace culture and provide a variety of learning and networking opportunities with DSM employers.
  • Transferring Skill Sets — Guidance is available regarding the transferability of foreign degree licensure, credentialing and work experience.
  • Entrepreneurial and Business Connections — With a vast network of business and community contacts, as well as well-versed startup and entrepreneurial initiatives, The Partnership is a great resource to help get entrepreneurial ideas or business startups off the ground.
  • Trailing Spouse Job Assistance — The Partnership is able to help spouses find job placements within the community as well.
  • Relocation Assistance — The Partnership can provide you and your family in-depth information to help you prepare to relocate here, or help you further connect to the community and resources after relocating.
  • Find Jobs and Internships — The Partnership’s DSM USA Career Center is a resource for candidates to search and apply for career opportunities.
  • Welcome to DSM USA Receptions — Attend a Welcome to DSM USA reception to meet other new residents of DSM. Find more info on The Partnership’s events page.
  • Service to Employers:
    • Connecting employers with high-skilled talent.
    • Helping employers understand foreign credentials and credentialing.
    • Providing access to a large pool of high-skilled, trained talent with global experience.
    • More understanding and training around hiring bias and helping all individuals unlock their human potential.
  • National Resources on Foreign-Born Talent:

Other Community Organizations Providing Workforce Services

Central Iowa Works — A workforce intermediary, convening partners to build solutions that help businesses, families and our community thrive. Programs connect employers with talented workers in jobs that provide career growth and financial stability.

Central Iowa Health Works — A program of Central Iowa Works that provides training opportunities for foreign-born individuals to pursue healthcare careers.

Project Iowa — Providing career guidance, trainings and mentoring opportunities.

Goodwill of Central Iowa Career Connections Center — Providing free job readiness services to anyone who is unemployed or underemployed.

DMACC — A primary source of learning for English as a Second Language (ESL), career-readiness classes and many other learning opportunities to prepare individuals  to thrive in the workforce.

Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) — This state agency provides employment services for job seekers through the IowaWorks partnership. IWD offers documents and instructions in several languages on the IWD website.

Other Multicultural Resources

Iowa International Center — The goal of the Iowa International Center is to build cultural respect at home and around the world, one person at a time. The center works to provide access to educational and cultural resources to foreign-born talent in an effort to enhance Iowa’s inclusivity and retain professionals.

Iowa International Center – Interpretation and Translation Services – With more than 120 interpreters and translators fluent in more than 60 languages and dialects, this service of the Iowa International Center helps remove language barriers for individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations and other entities.

Local Events

Diversity in DSM is celebrated through many annual festivals and events, including:

  • CelebrAsian, held annually in May, celebrates Asian culture in DSM.

    Immigrant Story in DSM USA
  • The Greek Food Fair, held annually in June, celebrates home-style Greek favorites.
  • The Latino Heritage Festival, held annually in September, builds awareness on the Latin culture in DSM.
  • World Food & Music Festival, held annually in September, celebrates cuisine and entertainment from around the world.World Food and Music Festival in Downtown DSM USA
  • I’ll Make Me A World in Iowa, held annually in February, celebrates Iowa’s African American arts, culture and contributions.
  • Immigrant Entrepreneurs Summit, held annually in November, showcases successes of local immigrant entrepreneurs and serves as an opportunity for networking and sharing of entrepreneurial best practices.