Upskilling the New American Workforce

By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, June 24, 2016

Immigrants today represent more than 1 in every 6 workers in the United States – a full 17% of the American workforce. As American businesses increasingly seek workers with postsecondary credentials, immigrant workers are playing a significant and growing role in filling those talent needs.

This issue is particularly pronounced in the area of middle-skill jobs – those that require more than a high school diploma, but not a four-year degree. A full 54% of jobs in the U.S. are middle-skill occupations, while only 44% of workers are trained to the middle-skill level. Nationwide, among immigrants age 25 and older, approximately 30% have less than a high school diploma, and another 23% have a high school diploma or equivalent.

This publication’s purpose is twofold: First, to shine a spotlight on parts of the immigrant integration and adult education/workforce development systems that are working well. Second, to provide advocates with information about key federal and state policies that can be used to sustain these programs, replicate them, and take them to scale.