NSC provides recommendations to the White House Task Force on New Americans

By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, February 19, 2015

NSC recently provided more than a dozen recommendations to the White House Task Force on New Americans, an interagency group created by Presidential Memorandum in November 2014.

Our recommendations recognized that skills must be a focal point in immigrant integration efforts. Placing skills at the center of immigration policy is vital not only for the success of individual immigrants, but also to ensure that broader American communities benefit from the economic potential of policies such as Deferred Action.

Now is an especially important time to ensure that federal efforts in workforce and immigration are aligned for maximum impact. Three significant developments in the policy landscape are coinciding – the anticipated implementation of expanded Deferred Action policies, the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and the White House’s Job-Driven Training Action Plan.  

NSC’s recommendations emphasized that:

  • The adult education and workforce systems need significantly more capacity to meet existing and emerging demand.
  • Support for career pathway strategies like bridge programs is vital in ensuring that immigrants can transition effectively from entry-level classes to higher-level skills training.
  • There are a variety of approaches that can be used to make the system more demand-driven, including sector partnerships, integrated education and skills training programs such as I-BEST, and improving adult education programs’ explicit connection to employment.

Our analysis also highlighted numerous opportunities for policymakers to build on the legislative foundation of WIOA to encourage best practices in the provision of services to immigrants. Among our specific recommendations:

  • Encourage states to engage immigrant‑serving organizations as planning partners in the development of WIOA state plans, and consider how best to align WIOA funds with other public investments in training.
  • Affirm and amplify WIOA legislative language on employment-focused ABE/ESL and sector partnerships.
  • Reaffirm that individuals granted Deferred Action are eligible for federally funded workforce services

NSC also encouraged the Task Force to promote state and local policies that support effective practices in serving immigrants. For example, the Workforce Training Fund Program (WTFP) in Massachusetts is funded by a surcharge on the Unemployment Insurance tax of about $8.60/employee/year. It generates $20 million in revenue, which can be used to support workplace adult basic education and ESL for incumbent workers.

Other recommendations encouraged the Task Force to examine the role of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act in serving immigrant constituents; to explore mechanisms to serve adults who have “tested out” of traditional ESL classes but are not yet prepared for college-level work; and to better disseminate existing federal adult education curricula and related resources.

These recommendations build on the momentum of Missing in Action, NSC’s recent report about the role of workforce and adult education in realizing the economic potential of Deferred Action and related immigration policies.

Read the full set of recommendations here.

Photo by Flickr user Skyline_College. Used by permission under a Creative Commons license.