The Integration of Immigrants in the Work place

Here’s some interesting research done by Institute for Work and the Economy, on the integration of Immigrants in the work place.

This project addressing the challenges of integrating immigrants in the workplace
was conceived as a result of a plenary session at the 2003 Workplace Learning
Conference on the same topic. That session revealed deep-seated frustration
among workforce professionals who reported that very little appeared to be
available to them with respect to policies and practices that had been shown to be
effective in integrating foreign-born workers in American workplaces. At first,
we thought that the source of this frustration was an ineffective system for
disseminating information. And, to a fair degree we found that we were correct.
However, as we investigated further, we learned that there are significant areas
where the research is simply suggestive of good practices and other areas where
there is no serious research at all – especially in the context of the United States.
We also learned that although immigrants comprise a significant part of the
backbone of the American labor market, they also are viewed as being a special
population that is out of the mainstream. Consequently, human resources
professionals, labor activists, community organizers, educators, political leaders
and policymakers, and workforce professionals had few, if any, opportunities to
discuss and learn about effective strategies, policies and practices at conferences
held at their associations.
Clearly, no single project is able to fill the gap in knowledge in how foreign-born
workers are integrated successfully into the workplace. First, the issues are
extraordinarily complex in terms of the social, cultural, educational, motivational
factors of immigrant groups, and in terms of systems that serve as bridges into the
workplace and the community. Second, American attitudes and policies towards
immigrants in the workplace are both ambiguous and ambivalent, resulting in
highly localized initiatives – often at the scale of actions taken within the four
walls of a business. In regulated occupations such as nursing, policies and
practices vary state by state, and often, community by community. Finally,
federal, state and local policymakers base their visions of a workforce
development system on models that assume that the coming generations of
workers in the United States will be born and educated here despite overwhelming
evidence demonstrating that growth in the workforce depends substantially on
migrations of foreign-born workers. A change to models that account for multiple
pathways, both foreign and domestic, into the U.S. workforce would require a
fundamental shift in what we imagine will be the faces of American workers.
This exploratory initiative on the integration of immigrants is an effort to help
human resources professionals, community activists, educators, labor activists,
and professionals in the public workforce system seek and develop solutions to
real-life challenges of integrating immigrants in the workplace. Our primary
objective was to offer a framework supporting the development of policies,
practices and processes that lead to the successful integration of immigrant
workers. An early review of the literature – both popular and academic – showed
that the processes for effective immigrant integration are, for the most part,
simply taken for granted in the United States. However, we also noted that immigrants are finding their own way and advancing in the workforce, althoughfacing both delays and obstacles in the process. This suggested that employers, workers and communities have both formal and informal processes supporting integration. Therefore, we concluded that a reasonable early step to the development of more formal policies and practices was to describe with what actually was occurring in the field.

Generally, much of the effort in the U.S. appears to focus on basic needs: such as
education and health care. Ironically, although work is a primary driver for
international migration, all levels of government appear to be much slower to
respond to the workforce challenges. We can speculate as to the reasons why the
United States has pursued generally a laissez-faire approach to immigrant policy
as it pertains to the workplace. Two reasons offered are that immigration has been
confined historically to gateway cities that have developed informal integration
processes and that immigration policy is largely family-based as opposed to
skills-based. However, recent waves of immigrants in nearly unprecedented
numbers and across jurisdictions has prompted a realization at all levels that
effective integration does not simply “just happen.” Communities of all sizes and
types are experiencing for the first time in generations an influx of newcomers
speaking languages other than English, with long and rich cultures, unfamiliar
customs, and religions that differ from traditional Judeo-Christian practices.

Our report makes a broad sweep of all immigrants regardless of skill, country of
origin, gender or religion. We give special attention, however, to immigrants in
low-wage jobs. We also assume that some things are working well – that
employers, community organizations, unions, faith-based organizations,
immigrant-serving groups, educational institutions and public workforce systems
are finding ways of bringing immigrants into the workplace that are profitable to
businesses, lead to successful careers for the immigrants and that result in well-functioning communities. We recognize those practices and policies that are noteworthy and are worth exploring. However, we make no assertion as to whether something is “best” in its class.

We draw our lessons from the Chicago metropolitan area, from other parts of the
nation and, to a more limited extent, from around the world. In the Chicago metro
area, we heard from immigrant advocates, business managers, union activists,
educators, job trainers and community activists at seven community forums. We
also had many one-on-one conversations with leaders of immigrant-serving
organizations across many ethnicities and religions, informal meetings with
immigrants in coffee shops and in classrooms, and interviews of local experts. We
also mined the available literature on the U.S. and, to a more limited extent, on
Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. We tapped the knowledge and
experiences of a cross-section of the leading experts in workforce development
and immigrant integration. This was accomplished through interviews with
experts on immigrant policy and a two-day, in-depth benchmarking and discovery
forum attended by a broad mix of experts on immigrant integration and on
workforce development.

This report addresses our primary objective. However, throughout the project we
pursued a second objective: to encourage others to develop their own resources,
policies and programs supporting better integration of immigrants in the
workplace. As a result, we openly share all products from this project through the
Institute’s website, presentations, public forums and through a blog. These
products include:

A practical guide to what the literature tells us about effective policies and
practices in the workforce integration of immigrants
• All working documents and summaries from the community forums, meetings
with the leadership of immigrant serving organizations, and the results of the
benchmarking and discovery forum
• A metro-wide forum that publicly explored what we have found to be the
critical issues of workforce integration:
• English language acquisition, jobs skills training and immigration status
• Credentials, certification and skills recognition, and entrepreneurship
• Community integration and jobs competition
• A “roadmap” that workforce boards, community organizations, local
education systems, immigrant-serving organizations, labor unions, and policy
makers at the local, state and federal levels may use as a strategic planning
• A bibliography of the current literature
• Important source materials and links to organizations that have valuable
resources on immigrant integration policies and processes
• A blog encouraging an exchange of views on various integration topics.

Finally, this report focuses exclusively on the issues of integration – what can and
should be done to ensure the successful participation of immigrants in the
workforce. It makes no comment on immigration policy. However, we believe
that efforts leading to the successful integration of immigrants in the workplace
can constructively inform the development of immigration policy.
The project on the integration of immigrants in the workplace was helped in
innumerable ways during the course of the previous twelve months. We are
sincerely thankful to the project funder, The Joyce Foundation, especially Jennifer
Phillips, the project advisory committee, the participants in the Benchmark and
Discovery Forum, the participants in the seven community forums, the many
people interviewed for this project, the Workforce Boards of Metropolitan
Chicago and Northern Illinois University, notably John Lewis and Lisa Bergeron.
The Institute for Work and the Economy project team takes sole responsibility for
the outcomes of this project and the opinions expressed through this final report,
the roadmap, presentations and publications. The people and organizations
making contributions to this project represent a diverse range of opinions and
positions, so our results cannot be construed as a consensus position and they may not be inferred to be the positions or opinions of The Joyce Foundation, Northern Illinois University or anyone else helping in this project. The following individuals provided invaluable guidance and assistance. They are listed without their organizational affiliations since some participated in the project outside their official roles.


About ramjr762013

Graduate students attending CSU Stanislaus Sales Rep
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