- Jobs & Skills
Investing in the Human Capital of ImmigrantsSeptember 24, 2012
A Brookings paper outlines ways communities can invest in the skills of immigrant workers and train others to obtain quality jobs.
Communities continue investing in infrastructure and boosting their economies, but what about investing in the residents who live there? More specifically, a Brookings paper released last week calls for cities and regions to invest in the human capital of immigrants who are already living in their jurisdictions.
The paper, Investing in the Human Capital of Immigrants, Strengthening Regional Economies by Audrey Singer, also highlights programs and partnerships that could help unlock the skills of immigrants with foreign credentials and build the skills of others who could advance in various fields. One set of programs, for example, is geared toward high-skills professionals who were trained abroad and face obstacles finding jobs matching their skills, the paper’s summary states. Another set of programs targets middle-skilled immigrants, who could move into better jobs if they receive adequate training.
A summary of the paper poses the question: “If strategies to unlock or build skills of immigrants are explicit goals, how can localities achieve them?”
The Welcome Back Initiative, mentioned in the paper, is one example of a project tackling that challenge. The initiative has 10 locations across the country and aims to connect internationally trained health workers living in the United States and the need for health services in underserved communities that reach a broad base of languages and cultures, according to information from the program’s website. The program helps health professionals obtain credentials and licenses to practice in the United States, along with further educational opportunities to help them market their skills and advance in their careers. At the same time, the program’s mission is to increase cultural competency in health care by diversifying the workforce.
Other types of programs, such as Training Futures through Northern Virginia Family Service and Northern Virginia Community College, prepare workers for entry-level jobs. Local people seeking employment can train in an office setting on computer skills, business English and math, medical terminology and communication skills. Trainees also receive support during their job search.
“Investing in immigrants already here – this is not a suggestion to bring additional immigrants into the United States – can help local businesses and economies, as well as immigrants, their families and the communities in which they live,” the Brookings paper states.