New Paths to Making a Living
This chapter examines the different approaches and outcomes that shape the West African immigrant employment experience in America. In particular, it analyzes the kinds of occupations performed by West African immigrants in the United States, as well as the detours that underlie these patterns of work and socioeconomic mobility among the newcomers. More often than not, the positions the immigrants were trained for and held at home are not available options for them in the United States. The jobs that West Africans find themselves doing in their new settings represent what is termed an “occupational detour.” This chapter considers the aspirations, qualifications, and accomplishments of West Africans and their children for the American labor market. It also discusses the employment detours of West African immigrants as they make their way into a variety of sectors of the U.S. labor force, with particular emphasis on the experiences of nurses and taxi drivers.
Keywords: employment, occupations, West African immigrants, socioeconomic mobility, West Africans, occupational detour, labor market, labor force, nurses, taxi drivers