Opportunities lag in growing African community

A study by an organization of African immigrants has found that Africans in Illinois with advanced degrees are having difficulty finding jobs that match their professional backgrounds.

A study by an organization of African immigrants has found that Africans in Illinois with advanced degrees are having difficulty finding jobs that match their professional backgrounds. The study by the United African Organization is meant to shed light on the need for job placement, English lessons and other services for African immigrants. Executive director Alie Kabba said the African community in Illinois has been largely ignored when there is a public policy discussion about immigrants. Kabba said conversations with Africans driving cabs in Chicago with master’s degrees raises the question of why there is a disparity between education and professional status. "It reflects a certain attitude toward Africa, that there’s not much coming out of Africa," he said. The report surveyed 160 African immigrants in Illinois. It found 53 percent have bachelor’s or graduate degrees, a figure similar to 2006 statewide census estimates. The average income among those surveyed was $44,000 a year. Compared to other workers with similar education, Africans are underemployed in jobs that do not take advantage of their skills, according to the report. Although the number of African immigrants in Illinois is estimated at 43,000, according to 2006 census estimates, the community grew 63 percent between 2000 and 2006, compared with 16 percent for Latin American immigrants and 22 percent for Asian immigrants. (AP) ______ Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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