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NSC kicks off Welcoming Week with UnidosUS affiliates

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock,
NSC kicks off Welcoming Week with UnidosUS affiliates

Hundreds of immigration-related events are being held across the United States during Welcoming Week from September 15-24 (yes, it’s more than a week). Many of the events are focusing on the skills and contributions of immigrant workers.

National Skills Coalition began the week by joining more than 150 workforce advocates at the UnidosUS (formerly NCLR) 2017 Workforce Development Forum, held in Las Vegas. Director of Upskilling Policy Amanda Bergson-Shilcock presented two workshops and participated in a Best Practices Café.

NSC’s presentations included:

  • Effective Skills Equity Policies to Support Latino Adult Learners and Workers (view slides). This presentation explored five different state policies that can help Latino youth and adults, including those with barriers to employment, to succeed in middle-skill training and jobs.
  • Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning Policies and Latino-Serving Organizations (view slides). This presentation highlighted opportunities for nonprofit community-based organizations to advocate for effective work-based learning policies that can provide access to well-paying jobs for Latino youth and adults.

NSC’s Work-Based Learning Policy 50-State Scan was a popular take-home for attendees. Other publications shared with attendees included NSC’s new 2-page fact sheet on Latinos and work-based policy, and recent fact sheet on Dreamers and Middle-Skill Jobs.

Business Voices Speak Out on Upskilling

At the plenary session that began the UnidosUS Forum, upskilling was a major focus. Three business leaders participated in a panel moderated by Dr. Margaret “Peggy” McLeod, who serves as Deputy Vice President, Education and Workforce Development for UnidosUS.

“With 14,000 restaurants and 850,000 workers, we can have a real impact on the education gap that exists in this country,” explained Lisa Schumacher of McDonald’s. “There are business benefits and an ROI to us in making this investment.” McDonald’s offers a range of educational benefits to workers via its Archways to Opportunity program, including free individual educational advising services, available in English and Spanish.

Schumacher noted that while turnover rates in the fast-food industry are generally high, they were much lower among individuals who participated in upskilling opportunities. A full 89% of employees who had participated in McDonald’s English Under the Arches program were still with the same employer a year later, and 79% were retained for at least three years.

Also participating in the panel was Elly Dickerman of Charter Communications. “We’ve transformed into a 90,000 employee, Fortune 100 company,” she told conference attendees, “ready to invest in talent and upskill our workforce.”

For example, Dickerman said, Charter offers a Broadband Technician Apprenticeship Program for military veterans that currently has 1,000 participants across five states. “It’s a 2-1/2 year program in which apprentices start as a Field Technician 1 and become a Field Technician 5 by the time they graduate,” she explained.

Panelist Linda Rodriguez of JPMorgan Chase described her company’s evolving investments through its New Skills at Work initiative. To date, the initiative has pledged $75 million for career and technical education, and $17 million for Summer Youth Employment (SYE).  “Kids rely on those SYE jobs” for their crucial first workforce opportunity, she explained. “They may not have a neighbor who can offer them that all-important first job.”

Employers Taking The Lead

The business case for upskilling was also a topic in one of the breakout sessions, which focused on the Skills and Opportunity for a New American Workforce program. The program is a partnership among community colleges in three cities – Miami, Houston, and New York – and the grocery store chains of Whole Foods, Publix, and Kroger. It is overseen by the National Immigration Forum and funded by Walmart.

Session participants heard from National Immigration Forum staff as well as representatives of Westchester (NY) Community College and the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education. Among the program outcomes shared by presenters: Between 11 percent and 20 percent of participants (depending on the geographic site) have been promoted, and 79 percent are on track to be promoted. More than 90 percent of workers report that they are more confident on the job, and 89 percent say they have improved interactions with customers. Finally, 88 percent of managers report increased store productivity due to employee participation in the program.

A Congressional Voice for Skills

Wrapping up the UnidosUS Workforce Development Forum was a keynote speech by Representative Ruben Kihuen, a Democrat who represents Nevada’s Fourth Congressional District, including part of Las Vegas.

Kihuen began his speech with a nod to the hospitality workers serving Forum attendees, and a little of his own family’s story, including his father’s history as a farmworker and his mother’s work as a cleaner.

Kihuen emphasized the value of Pell Grants and federal work-study programs, saying that he had personally benefitted from both. He praised the role of high-quality career and technical education (CTE) programs in providing on-ramps to good jobs for youth and adults. Finally, he offered a strong endorsement of the DREAM Act, reminding attendees of the bipartisan support it enjoys. 

Posted In: Adult Basic Education, Immigration
A Window of Opportunity for Congress: Creating a Permanent Fix for Immigrant Dreamers

Today, the Trump administration rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The decision will cause substantial ripple effects through the US workforce. Nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers” have received temporary 2-year work permits under DACA, and surveys have shown that the overwhelming majority are employed. Recent estimates suggest that ending DACA will cause a loss of $460 billion to the national GDP over the next decade.

Many DACA recipients are filling crucial middle-skill positions in the American economy – such as Jesus Contreras, a Houston-area paramedic who recently worked to rescue individuals from Hurricane Harvey. NSC documented the key role that immigrant Dreamers play in meeting labor-market demands in our fact sheet on Dreamers and Middle-Skill Jobs

The administration’s announcement provides a short, urgent window of opportunity for Congress to take action on a more permanent solution to the situation faced by young undocumented immigrants and the American companies that employ them. Under the policy announced today, current DACA recipients will see their work permits and temporary protection expire on a rolling basis starting in March 2018. People with expired permits will no longer be able to work legally and are vulnerable to immediate deportation.

At least 72% of Fortune 500 companies employ DACA recipients, and the program enjoys widespread support among CEOs. Last week, hundreds of business leaders signed an open letter to the Trump administration in support of DACA.

Given the enormous impact of DACA and its beneficiaries on the US economy, Congress should act promptly to create a pathway to permanent legal status and citizenship for Dreamers. The DREAM Act legislation introduced in July by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) represents the most durable solution: A rigorous, carefully designed pathway to legal permanent resident (“green card”) status and the eventual opportunity to apply for US citizenship.

Crucially, this version of DREAM would allow young people who earn certain middle-skill credentials to obtain legal status. This reflects a longstanding NSC recommendation first articulated in our 2015 publication Missing in Action: Job-Driven Educational Pathways for Unauthorized Youth and Adults.

Other legislative proposals include the Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act, spearheaded by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), and the BRIDGE Act, a bill co-sponsored by a bipartisan array of Senators that would provide only temporary protection for Dreamers.

NSC urges Congress to expeditiously take up a legislative proposal such as DREAM that includes a middle-skill pathway and can meet the long-term needs of Dreamers and American businesses alike.

Posted In: Immigration
New survey emphasizes payoff of education, skills opportunities for immigrant Dreamers

Results from a new survey of young immigrants highlight the importance of upskilling and education opportunities in facilitating their economic contributions. Survey findings also affirm the key role of middle-skills credentials in helping these job seekers and workers pursue their career goals.

The survey focused on immigrants who were brought to the US as children without authorization, and have subsequently been granted temporary protection under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

DACA recipients receive 2-year renewable work permits and temporary relief from deportation. Since the program was enacted in 2012, nearly 800,000 young people have received DACA status. Just over 3,000 participated in the survey, which was conducted by researcher Tom K. Wong of the University of California at San Diego in collaboration with the non-profits United We Dream, the National Immigration Law Center, and the Center for American Progress.

Among the survey’s major findings:

  • DACA recipients are working. An overwhelming 91 percent of respondents are currently employed, including 54 percent who said that DACA enabled them to get their very first job
  • More than half reported that DACA had allowed them to get a job that “better fits my education and training” (54 percent) and/or “better fits my long-term career goals” (also 54 percent)
  • Many had pursued or are still pursuing education, including 44 percent who are currently enrolled in school

Notably, nearly 1 in 4 survey respondents who are enrolled in school are pursuing a middle-skills credential – 19 percent are pursuing an associate’s degree and another 4 percent are enrolled in a vocational/technical degree or certificate program. (An additional 3 percent of respondents are pursuing a high school diploma or equivalent.)

NSC previously highlighted the important role that DACA recipients play in meeting the demand for middle-skill workers in our fact sheet on Dreamers and Middle-Skill Jobs.

In addition, two-thirds (65 percent) of survey respondents reported that DACA had allowed them to “pursue educational opportunities that I previously could not.” This energy in pursuing educational opportunities also held strong for older DACA recipients; among those aged 25 and above, fully 54 percent agreed with that statement.

The release of the survey comes as the Trump administration is considering the future of the DACA program, which was put into place through executive action and can be discontinued or ended without need for Congressional approval. Ten states have set a September 5 deadline for the Trump administration to end the program or face legal action. Twenty other states have urged the President to preserve the DACA program.

While DACA provides temporary relief, only Congress can provide a path to permanent legal status and eventual US citizenship for Dreamers. A bipartisan DREAM Act was introduced in the Senate last month by Senators Lindsey Graham (R., SC) and Dick Durbin (D., IL).

Posted In: Immigration

New fact sheet: immigrant Dreamers and middle-skill jobs

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock,
New fact sheet: immigrant Dreamers and middle-skill jobs

Following the recent introduction of a bipartisan DREAM Act in the Senate, National Skills Coalition is releasing a new fact sheet on the role immigrant Dreamers can play in meeting business needs for middle-skill workers.

The U.S. is home to at least 1.7 million immigrants who came to this country as children and do not have authorized immigration status, often referred to as Dreamers. Approximately 800,000 Dreamers have received a temporary status known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which provides them with protection from deportation and a 2-year renewable work permit.

While the popular image of Dreamers is often one of students enrolled in four-year colleges or universities, research has shown that many are pursuing two-year degrees or other credentials that will equip them for middle-skill jobs. Examples of such jobs include:

  • Laboratory technicians
  • Certified production technicians
  • Supply chain specialists
  • Computer-user support specialists

These middle-skill jobs comprise the majority of today’s labor market – 53% of all jobs in the U.S. – and are in high demand throughout each of the fifty states.

NSC’s fact sheet highlights specific steps that state and federal policymakers can take to strengthen connections to middle-skill pathways for Dreamers. Crucially, many of these policy recommendations will improve pathways for American-born jobseekers as well as immigrants.

View the full fact sheet here.

Posted In: Immigration
New Texas and Arkansas Fact Sheets: Immigrants Can Help Meet Demand for Middle-Skill Workers

Two new fact sheets from National Skills Coalition highlight the important role that immigrant workers play in filling middle-skill jobs in Texas and Arkansas.

While immigration settlement patterns differ substantially between the two states, in both cases, immigrant workers will be vital to helping the states meet their ambitious goals for postsecondary credential attainment and respond to local industries’ talent needs.

To accomplish these goals, states will need to ensure that their talent-development pipelines are inclusive of the many immigrants who are poised to benefit from investments in their skills: More than half of adult immigrants in Arkansas (62 percent) and Texas (63 percent) have not gone beyond high school in their education.

Arkansas: A Quickly Growing Immigrant Population Meets Aging Workforce

Arkansas is one of the nation’s fastest-growing immigrant destinations. The state has seen its foreign-born population quintuple in recent years, rising from just 1 percent of the population in 1990 to 5 percent today.

Immigrants in Arkansas are much more likely to be of working age: Fully 83 percent are between the ages of 18-64, compared to just 59 percent of native-born Arkansas residents. The relatively high number of elders in the native-born population also contributes to another notable difference: 68 percent of adult immigrants in Arkansas are in the labor force, compared to 57% of native-born Arkansas adults.

The state has recently established a significant goal for middle-skill credential attainment: By 2025, Arkansas seeks to increase the percentage of state residents with a postsecondary credential to 60 percent. Immigrants are certain to be an important component of the state’s future workforce pipeline.

Learn more in our new fact sheet: Middle-Skill Credentials and Immigrant Workers: Arkansas’ Untapped Assets

Texas: A Big Population Meets an Ambitious Postsecondary Goal

As the saying goes, everything is bigger in Texas – and that is certainly true for immigration.  Texas has long been a magnet for newcomers from abroad, having been one of the “Big Six” destination states (along with California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York) for decades.

Today, Texas is home to more than 4.7 million immigrants, who comprise 1 in 6 state residents. The state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board has recently established an aggressive goal for postsecondary attainment. By 2030, the state aims to equip at least 60 percent of 25-to-34-year-olds with a certificate or degree.

In order to reach that goal, Texas will need to invest in skill-building for native-born and immigrant workers alike.

Learn more in our new fact sheet: Middle-Skill Credentials and Immigrant Workers: Texas’ Untapped Assets

Posted In: Adult Basic Education, Immigration, Arkansas, Texas

Senators Introduce Dream Act; Includes Middle-Skill Pathway

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock,
Senators Introduce Dream Act; Includes Middle-Skill Pathway

Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today introduced the Dream Act of 2017. The bill would provide a path to legal immigration status and eventual U.S. citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and meet eligibility requirements. Notably, the bill includes a provision that would enable immigrants who earn certain middle-skill credentials to obtain legal status. NSC has long advocated for this provision, which ensures that the Dream Act is responsive to current US labor market needs. As described below, American businesses across all fifty states show strong and continuing demand for workers who are trained at the middle-skill level.

What the Bill Includes

The Dream Act introduced today is similar in its general outline to earlier versions introduced in Congress over the past 15 years, but has been modernized in numerous respects to better reflect today’s labor market and other considerations. Individuals who apply for status under the Dream Act of 2017 would need to complete a three-step process.

First, applicants would have to meet initial criteria and apply for conditional permanent resident status. Second, those who receive conditional status would have the opportunity to apply for lawful permanent resident status (known colloquially as a “green card”). Finally, those who have green cards would be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.

In order to earn permanent resident status, individuals would need to meet a range of eligibility criteria, including but not limited to:

  • Graduating from high school or obtaining high school equivalency;
  • Pursuing higher education (including certain middle-skill educational pathways); working lawfully for at least 3 years, or serving in the military;
  • Demonstrating proficiency in the English language and a knowledge of United States history; and
  • Passing security and law enforcement background checks

Why A Middle-Skill Pathway Matters

Middle-skill occupations are those that require more than a high school diploma, but less than a bachelor’s degree. A National Skills Coalition analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data found there are not enough workers in the U.S. trained for middle-skill jobs: Fully 54% of jobs in the labor market are middle skill, but only 44% of workers are trained to that level.

There is robust demand for middle-skill workers across the 50 states, as NSC’s state-by-state fact sheets demonstrate. Immigrant Dreamers can play an important role in helping their states meet the demand for these workers. Research on Dreamers has shown that many are already obtaining middle-skill credentials.

In recognition of this labor market demand, NSC has long advocated for a middle-skills pathway in the Dream Act. Our Missing in Action report outlines policy recommendations in this area. The new Dream Act being introduced by Senators Durbin and Graham incorporates our core recommendation, and would allow individuals who earn certain middle-skill credentials to qualify for legal status.

How Many People Would Be Affected 

While estimates of the exact number of individuals who would be eligible for the new Dream Act is are not yet available, data from a related effort can help shed light on the potential universe of applicants.

That data comes from the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, which issued estimates indicating that 1.9 million young people could be eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

DACA was implemented through executive action by the Obama administration in 2012 and allows eligible young undocumented immigrants to obtain temporary protection from deportation and a 2-year renewable work permit. DACA eligibility requirements are similar but not identical to those for the first step of the Dream Act.

To date, approximately 800,000 individuals have been granted DACA status. Under the newly introduced Dream Act, people who had already received DACA would automatically be granted the first step in the Dream Act process -- conditional permanent resident status – unless they have engaged in conduct subsequent to receiving DACA that would make them ineligible.

A Permanent Resolution Versus a Temporary Fix

While the DACA program has provided a temporary fix for many young immigrant Dreamers, no president has the authority to grant permanent immigration status. Only Congress has the power to provide a path to permanent legal status and citizenship.

Introduction of the new Dream Act comes as the Trump administration is facing a challenge from states that want the DACA program to be abolished. A group of 10 states, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, has set a September 2017 deadline for the administration to “phase out” the DACA program or face legal action. 

Posted In: Immigration
Maine introduces legislation to support and integrate immigrant workforce

A Republican state senator in Maine has introduced a bill that would create a Cabinet-level Office of New Mainers. The bipartisan legislation is in response to concerns about the state’s aging workforce, and recognition that immigrant workers represent a potential resource for meeting the state’s current and future labor force needs.

According to Census figures, nearly 1 in 5 Mainers is over the age of 65, and the state has the oldest median age in the nation. Just 3.5 percent of the state’s population was born abroad, a number that is far below the national average of 13 percent foreign-born residents.

The legislation was introduced by Sen. Roger Katz (R-Augusta). A press release from the senator’s office describes key features of the bill, titled An Act To Attract, Educate and Retain New Mainers To Strengthen the Workforce (LD 1492). The bill would create an Office of New Mainers headed by a director who would:

  • Coordinate with state agencies and programs to attract, educate, integrate and retain immigrants into Maine’s workforce. Specific agencies mentioned include the state’s departments of Labor; Education; Economic and Community Development; Health and Human Services; and Professional and Financial Regulation.
  • Administer programs, projects and grants to attract, educate, integrate and retain immigrants into the state’s workforce, economy and communities.
  • Develop metrics to evaluate outcomes.
  • Establish a committee to provide input and guide the development and implementation of the comprehensive plan. Committee members would include a wide range of stakeholders, including a representative from the state workforce board; three Chamber of Commerce representatives; a postsecondary education representative; and a person with “extensive experience in providing educational instruction to adult English Language Learners.”

The press release also notes that the bill would establish a Welcome Center Initiative to provide vocational training for foreign-trained workers, match those individuals with employers in areas experiencing a shortage of trained workers and establish three grant programs to provide support to immigrants, communities and adult education programs to achieve the stated goals.

In recognition of the critical role that English language acquisition plays in economic integration, the bill specifies that the Welcome Centers would be housed within existing adult education administrative structures. To ensure that job-training activities are demand-driven, organizations seeking funding under this program must collaborate with local employers to identify skill needs and develop interventions that address those needs.

The bill’s total projected price tag is $2 million. If enacted, Maine would join six other states that have established state-level Offices of New Americans or other initiatives designed to ensure that immigrant residents are incorporated into the labor market and broader society. Those states are California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania. In 2015, the Pew Immigration and the States Project released a short analysis of such state-level efforts. 

Posted In: Immigration, Adult Basic Education, Maine
California uses $2.5 million in WIOA discretionary funds to support “Workforce Navigation” for immigrants

More than 1 in 3 Californians was born in another country, and the state’s workforce system is moving to address systems-alignment and coordination issues to improve services to immigrants and English Language Learners.  On May 1, the California Workforce Development Board and the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency announced the award of five grants to local workforce boards to support pilot “Workforce Navigator” programs over the next 18 months.

A major impetus for the project was the state’s recognition of a disconnect between the high number of immigrant and English Language Learner workers in California and the relatively low number being served by the workforce system. In particular, just 3.7 percent of individuals exiting from the state’s WIOA Title I intensive services in Program Year 2014 had limited English skills.

Grant Recipients

Each of the five local boards received a $500,000 grant. The grantees are:

  • Madera County Workforce Investment Corporation
  • Orange County Development Board
  • Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network
  • Sacramento Employment and Training Agency
  • San Diego Workforce Partnership, Inc.

Notably, the grantees represent a wide range of geographic, economic, and demographic diversity. Workforce navigators will likely face location-specific opportunities and challenges given settings as diverse as the sprawling Los Angeles metropolitan area (for the Pacific Gateway project), and the substantially less-dense Fresno area (in the Madera County project).

Project Goals

As outlined in the project’s Request for Applications, a primary goal is to improve systems coordination to allow individual jobseekers to more smoothly navigate through adult education, job training, and other workforce services. In particular, grantees are being asked to improve coordination between Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I (workforce) and Title II (adult education) services.

Required activities for each grantee include:

  • Leveraging and coordinating a network of wrap-around services (childcare, transportation, etc.) offered through the workforce system and other partners to help individual participants successfully complete workforce programs. 
  • Partnering with nonprofit community-based organizations, particularly in cases when these organizations have established relationships or expertise in serving immigrant communities that local boards do not.
  • Improving alignment with WIOA Title II adult education programs, including co-enrolling participants as appropriate.
  • Establishment of a Workforce Navigator position, designating a specific staff member to help individual immigrant participants navigate the workforce and adult education systems.

Project Funding Source and Key Partners

Key partners in the effort include the California Community College Chancellor’s Office and the California Department of Education, which oversees the state’s adult education programs. The state workforce board is also funding third-party technical assistance and evaluation components of the project.

Funds for the project come from the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act through a provision known colloquially as the “governor’s reserve.” Every state is permitted to use up to 15 percent of its WIOA Title I funds for specific statewide projects at the governor’s discretion, provided the activities meet statutory requirements. All individuals participating in WIOA Title I-funded services must be legally authorized to work in the United States. 

More information about the California effort can be found on the project website.

Posted In: Adult Basic Education, Immigration, California
New York state funds “community navigators” project for low-income immigrants

A recent Request for Applications (RFA) from the New York State Office for New Americans represents an innovative approach to improving low-income immigrants’ access to career pathways and other workforce and social services for which they are eligible.

The RFA proposes to use just over $1 million in Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds to support full-time Community Navigator staff positions at 14 organizations.  Grants of approximately $75,000 are expected to be made to each selected organization. Once awarded, the year-long grants may be renewed for up to two additional years, subject to the availability of funds.  

Per the RFA, the goal of the project is to “maximize the participation of low-income immigrant community members in New York State’s civic and economic life.” The project is not intended to directly provide services. Rather, each community navigator will function as a sort of air-traffic controller, overseeing a corps of volunteers in their local region who will help eligible immigrants to discover and access already-existing services. Navigators will also be responsible for a set of convening and coordinating activities meant to deepen local understanding of immigrant integration, particularly around workforce and economic issues.

Why the project was created

The New York State Office for New Americans (ONA) explains the rationale behind this project in the introduction to its RFA:

There is a chronic lack of accessible information about publicly available services and programs in low-income immigrant communities throughout New York State. Low-income New American communities in New York State often lack reliable information regarding workforce development opportunities and other opportunities open to all New Yorkers to fully participate in our State’s civic and economic life. Meanwhile, the complex relationship between immigrants and government has further left newcomers at a deficit for reliable, trusted information.

Taken together, this has left New York State’s new American population ignored for career pathways, vulnerable to financial frauds and at an access deficit for possible ladders of opportunities. Dedicated outreach and community welcoming efforts are needed to help low-income immigrants gain access to the same opportunities available to all others in the State and country. To address this need, the New York State Office for New Americans (ONA) is seeking local leadership to coordinate and conduct outreach to low-income immigrant communities, and to create a grassroots community navigators program to help low-income New Americans.

Who is eligible to apply

Organizations eligible to apply for these funds include Community Action Agencies and other nonprofits who meet the New York State definition of community-based organization (CBO).

Notably, this statewide initiative is not limited to New York City. Just three of the anticipated 14 grantees will be located in the city. The other 11 grantees will be spread out across the remainder of the state, including two dedicated to the upstate area known as “North Country.”

What activities are required under the project

Each grantee organization will be required to carry out a similar slate of activities. These activities will be led by the full-time staff member (“Community Navigator”) funded under the grant. They include:

  • Establishing and leading a monthly Immigrant Integration Roundtable in their local community
  • Conducting a survey of local immigrants regarding important economic and workforce issues facing immigrants in the region, and producing an accompanying research report
  • Collaborating with nonprofit and other partners to develop and implement 10 employment/workforce development workshops and other events each year
  • Developing and overseeing a program to recruit and train community members to become volunteer Community Navigators assisting low-income immigrants in accessing services and resources for which they are eligible
  • Creating curricula and providing bimonthly trainings for volunteer Community Navigators

Each grantee’s staff member will also be responsible for hosting Community Conversations about immigrant integration, leading quarterly tours to help local stakeholders learn more about immigrant integration issues, and coordinating the dissemination of relevant announcements to ethnic media outlets.

How success will be measured

Grant applicants are required to demonstrate that their funded work will address one or more of the CSBG National Performance Goals and Indicators. Most relevant from a workforce perspective is Goal 1: “Low-income people become more self-sufficient.”

Indicators collected for this goal include individuals who obtained or maintained a job; obtained wage or benefit increase; achieved “living wage” employment; obtained skills/competencies required for employment; completed Adult Basic Education or High School Equivalency and received a certificate or diploma; or completed a postsecondary education program and obtained certificate or diploma.

The broader context for this project

New York is one of a handful of states in recent years that have created Offices for New Americans. Such offices are intended to improve the integration of immigrant newcomers into the fabric of their communities, and often focus on economic and workforce-related issues.

Among the activities undertaken by the New York State ONA include the funding of 27 ONA Neighborhood-Based Opportunity Centers around the state, and of legal counsels that will provide legal technical assistance to ONA Opportunity Centers. The ONA also supports activities that are specifically workforce-focused, including a program to help immigrants with STEM backgrounds to find skill-appropriate jobs in the U.S.

Posted In: Adult Basic Education, Immigration, New York

DOL issues new guidance on serving immigrants

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock,
DOL issues new guidance on serving immigrants

The Department of Labor recently issued a Training and Employment Notice (TEN 28-16) on best practices, partnership models, and resources for serving English language learners, immigrants, and refugees.

The TEN was sent to stakeholders across the public workforce system, including state labor departments, state and local workforce boards, and American Job Centers (formerly known as one-stop centers).

The TEN emphasizes the importance of ensuring that all customers have meaningful access to the public workforce system, and describes notable requirements for federally funded workforce providers under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Sec. 188 and its associated nondiscrimination/Equal Employment Opportunity regulations.

The TEN also reviews specific barriers that both highly educated and less-educated immigrant and refugee jobseekers may face, and ways that those barriers can be overcome, including:

  • Limited English proficiency, which can be addressed through contextualized, workplace-based English language classes
  • Lack of familiarity with US workplace practices, which can be addressed through mock interviews and help in building social capital and professional networks

The guidance also reminds workforce stakeholders that training services under WIOA Title I can include English language training if provided in combination with another training service, and that individuals who have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are eligible for WIOA Title I services (see NSC’s prior Q and A on this topic).

Six innovative partnership models for providing workforce services to immigrant and refugee jobseekers are spotlighted in the TEN. They include:

  • The Ready to Work program, offered through the Seattle Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs
  • Project Growing Regional Opportunity for the Workforce (GROW) in McAllen, TX
  • The Silicon Valley Alliance for Language Learners’ Integration, Education, and Success (ALLIES) Innovation Initiative in San Mateo, CA

Finally, the TEN provides copious links to technical assistance resources on issues that may affect immigrant and refugee jobseekers, such as: credentials and licensing; WIOA state plans and policy guidance; English language instruction; research on immigrant workforce integration; and trauma and human trafficking. 

Posted In: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Adult Basic Education, Immigration
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