New fact sheets: Immigrants can help meet demand for middle-skill workers in Arizona, California

By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, June 28, 2016

Today, National Skills Coalition is releasing two new fact sheets highlighting the potential for immigrant workers to fill middle-skill gaps in Arizona and California.

More than half (53 percent) of jobs in Arizona are middle-skill, but only 47 percent of Arizona workers are trained to that level. Investing in workers’ skill-building can help them obtain middle-skill credentials, earn family sustaining-wages, and meet local employer needs.

But while Arizona has a goal for bachelor’s degree attainment among state residents, the state has not set a goal for postsecondary attainment more broadly. Setting such a goal would help to focus state investment in adult education, English language acquisition, and other postsecondary programs.

Creating a postsecondary goal would have notable implications for the state’s 920,000 immigrants, who comprise 1 in 7 Arizona residents overall. Immigrants already play an essential role in Arizona’s labor market; a full 79 percent of immigrants are of working age (compared to 57 percent of native-born Arizonans) and immigrants have a higher labor-force participation rate.

However, immigrant workers also have lower educational attainment on average. In order for Arizona to capitalize on the full talents and abilities of immigrant residents, the state will need to facilitate their skill building. Learn more about the potential policy opportunities in our Arizona fact sheet.

California faces a similarly robust demand for middle-skill workers. A full 50 percent of jobs in the state are middle-skill, while only 40 percent of workers are trained to that level.

The state has recently set an ambitious goal of producing 1 million middle-skill, industry-valued and recognized postsecondary credentials by 2027. In order to accomplish this goal, California will need to further strengthen its investments in immigrant workers. Learn more about the current landscape and future policy opportunities in our California fact sheet.

Find out more about investing in immigrant workers’ skills, and see other publications and resources, on NSC’s immigration page