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National Skills Coalition Releases New Report on Job-Driven Educational Pathways for Unauthorized Youths and Adults

Posted on 03/16/2015

Making Skills Everyone's Business

The National Skills Coalition recently released Missing in Action: Job-Driven Educational Pathways for Unauthorized Youth and Adults External link opens in new window or tab a new report by Rachel Unruh and Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, on the effects of U.S. immigration policy on the estimated 11.4 unauthorized immigrants in America's labor force. The report examines the need for immigration policymakers to address gaps in the adult education and workforce systems in order to create effective policies that will allow immigrants to contribute to the economy. According to Missing in Action, while policymakers at the national and state levels have already put forward proposals that make it easier for immigrants to do this, some credential requirements do not align with labor market demands. The report also finds that no policy to date has included the investments or infrastructure necessary to support job-driven educational pathways for unauthorized youths and adults. Entities at the state and local levels serving youths and adult populations are encouraged to read the full report. 

According to the report, immigration policies that are aimed at deferring action on deportations have substantial economic potential for these youths and adults, as well as for the entire nation. It is well-documented, the authors say, that higher levels of education are associated with higher earnings and economic productivity. And without immigrants, the nation's workforce will not be able to replace the workers who are expected to retire between 2010 and 2030.  In short, "The absence of immigrants in the workforce could impede the nation's ability to maintain current productivity, let alone to foster economic growth and opportunity." 

Three recent immigration policies, The DREAM Act, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), are examined, and workforce system gaps are identified in each. The report finds that while federal immigration policy has tremendous economic potential, it must support job-driven training leading to middle-skill credentials. This will "ensure that the current lack of access to job-driven educational pathways does not become a barrier to citizenship in the future." Findings also show that "with the impending implementation of the newly reauthorized WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act), now is a particularly important time for the workforce development and immigrant integration communities to proactively engage in conversations with each other and with local, state, and federal policymakers about creating job-driven educational pathways for a significant and essential segment of America's current and future workforce: unauthorized youth and adults." 

Missing in Action concludes that if a strategy is not developed now to ensure that the WIOA's implementation "is informed by the immigration and adult basic education communities, the positive economic impact of immigration policy will be missing in action."

Source: OCTAE Connection External link opens in new window or tab , February 27, 2015