National Skills Coalition Calls for Strong Investments In Skills to Accompany Comprehensive Immigration Reform

June 27, 2013

Recently I had the opportunity to work with the National Skills Coalition (NSC) on developing a proposal to significantly expand federal investment in adult education and training as part of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). Most of us who work in adult education or workforce development think it’s likely that CIR will cause a significant increase in demand for adult education—not just by currently undocumented immigrants seeking to learn English, but also for many U.S. citizens and legal residents in the current workforce who will be under increasing pressure to upgrade their skills in response to the labor market changes that CIR will produce. Our report, Comprehensive Immigration Reform: A Proposal for a Skills Strategy that Supports Economic Growth and Opportunity, was released earlier this week.

NSC is, naturally, very employment-focused in their view of adult education. What I think is unique about this proposal, and something I’m particularly proud of, is how we attempted to outline an overarching strategy that recognizes the need for an integrated approach to meeting this likely growth in demand. So, for example, the report calls for expanding English language learning for all immigrants while investing more in integrated basic skills and vocational training for the existing workforce—and to do it in a systematic way that leverages the adult education system we have now.

The report also proposes to accomplish this within the framework of the current Senate immigration reform legislation, but without increasing the overall cost of the bill.