NSC’s new report showcases model immigrant skill-building programs

By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, June 27, 2016

Key federal and state policies can facilitate immigrants’ access to education and workforce opportunities – and there are innovative program models that offer useful examples of how to use these policy levers.

That’s the message of a new report from National Skills Coalition. Upskilling the New American Workforce showcases seven program models from around the United States, along with context on the policies that enable these programs to effectively serve immigrant workers.

The report is a practical resource for policymakers, funders, and advocates who are seeking to scale up innovative models. Programmatic examples illustrate a variety of effective approaches to serving immigrant jobseekers and adult English language learners.

Each of the programs helps immigrants acquire the foundational and technical skills needed for middle-skill employment that provides family-sustaining wages. They include:

  • An electronics assembly training program that prepares refugees to work in the aeronautics industry
  • A green janitorial program that equips immigrant janitors to work in LEED-certified buildings
  • A vocational English as a Second Language (VESL) program targeted at immigrant day laborers

The examples come from nonprofit community-based organizations, worker centers, community colleges, and other education and workforce providers with deep experience in serving immigrant communities. They range from newly launched initiatives to decades-long established models.

Advocates interested in launching similar programs in their own communities can draw on the lessons from this report, including:

  • 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 such as SNAP Employment & Training, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and Community Development Block Grants to support education and training programs
  • 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

Learn more in the full report.