University of Utah Economist Pamela Perlich was the keynote speaker at the Refugee Conference of Utah and she pointed out that the data shows that the nation and Utah are once again developing a minority demographic profile. This represents a return to historical trends of the large inflow of people from foreign countries that impacted Utah and the nation at the turn of the 20th century. As she said, the only time when the nation was “freakishly homogenous” and growing was during the post-war baby boom. This change corresponds well to the increasing globalization of the state’s economy.
Demographics matter! Our current refugees and certainly our children will be a part of a multiethnic culture and they will compete in a technological and global economy. Our immigration patterns are thankfully matching to the increasing demands for a workforce that is multicultural. Now is the time for creative solutions on how to apply the special skills of our global community to the service and technology economy so prevalent in Utah. We must connect our birthplace markets with our Utah markets.
This connection to birthplace markets is harder for our refugees. Many of the ties are permanently severed for refugees. Developing these markets, importing-and-exporting from the often poverty or war-stricken communities of the refugee’s birthplace is difficult or impossible. Developing the strengths and differentiated skills of refugees such as language skills, ethnic clothing or food, or specialized cultural services can be the initial bridge of the chasm between employment and entrepreneurship.
Opportunities exist for our women refugees to both ensure their children are part of this global community as well as themselves. Women have the greatest ability, with help from technologically savvy mentors to develop advertising on the web, to develop markets for cultural clothing, cultural parenting and daycare services like the have been popularized in the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, or catering or supplies of desserts and food.
Women of the World would like to thank Dr. Perlich for her insightful speech on how the changing demographics of the nation and the state of Utah are making women refugees a more in-demand segment of the population. It is now up to us to take the message from the latest census and develop each individual to be a part of the new global community. We need your fresh ideas and assistance in setting up programs that use our differentiated skills as foreign-born women to generate value in the new global-technological economy. Please contact us to brainstorm these ideas.