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National Skills Coalition Releases New Report on Model Immigrant Skill-Building Programs

Posted on 08/01/2016

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The National Skills Coalition External link opens in new window or tab (NSC) recently released a new report, Upskilling the New American Workforce External link opens in new window or tab : Demand-Driven Programs that Foster Immigrant Worker Success & Policies that Can Take Them to Scale, showcasing seven program models from New York, Minnesota, Oregon, and California. The examples provided illustrate a variety of effective approaches to serving immigrant jobseekers and adult English language learners. As such, the report serves as a practical resource for policymakers and others seeking to scale up innovative models.

Immigrants represent about 17 percent of the U.S. workforce. Some 54 percent of U.S. jobs are “middle-skill jobs” – “those that require more than a high school diploma, but not a four-year degree” – while only 44 percent of workers overall and even fewer immigrant workers are trained to that level. About 10 percent of the working-age population has limited English proficiency. Given this backdrop, the report meets an immediate need for information about model programs that help workers fill the workplace talent requirements.

Each of the programs showcased assists immigrants in acquiring the foundational and technical skills needed for middle-skill employment that provides family-sustaining wages. Examples vary from newly launched initiatives to decades-long established models, and come from nonprofit community-based organizations, worker centers, community colleges, and other education and workforce providers with deep experience in serving immigrant communities.

These include the following:

  • An electronics assembly training program that prepares immigrants and refugees to work in the aeronautics industry;
  • A green janitorial and energy management program that combines vocational English for Speakers of Other Languages (VESL) with job skills to equip immigrant janitors to work in LEED-certified buildings; and
  • A VESL program targeted at immigrant day laborers.

Those interested in launching similar programs in their own communities will find useful lessons in the report, including about the following:

  • The importance of demand-driven, evidence-based training programs that use tested models to prepare individuals for jobs that local employers need;
  • The availability of financial and other resources via key federal policies and programs, such as SNAP Employment and Training (see a related story in this newsletter edition), the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and Community Development Block Grants to support education and training programs; and
  • The opportunity to capitalize on visionary state policies, such as Minnesota’s FastTRAC program and California’s Adult Education Block Grant program, to serve immigrant workers.

To learn more about these new models, interested parties are encouraged to read the full report External link opens in new window or tab. To keep up with the latest news from the NSC, readers may wish to access the coalition’s blog External link opens in new window or tab.

Source: Issue 250 OCTAE Connection - July 21, 2016 External link opens in new window or tab