The ninth plenary meeting of the Transatlantic Council on Migration, co-convened by the Spanish Ministry of Employment and Social Security in Madrid, focused on how public and private-sector actors can make smart investments in underutilized workers—including immigrants. The goal was to discuss how to maximize the potential of those with skills of all types, including the often-overlooked middle skills.
The meeting recognized that policymakers must engage in a careful balancing act. They must create the legal channels through which immigrants will enter and create inclusive approaches to integration that address the specific needs of newcomers and help vulnerable populations without prioritizing—or being perceived to prioritize—the foreign born at the expense of the domestic population. Governments must also balance short- and long-term priorities in a much tighter budgetary environment, finding cost-effective ways to provide immediate relief and maintain the skills investments upon which longer-term economic prosperity will depend.
The Council Statement details the Council's guiding principles for policy reform and recommendations.
The individual papers presented at the meeting are available below:
Maximizing Potential: How Countries Can Address Skills Deficits within the Immigrant Workforce
Policymakers face the challenge of ensuring that workers have the skills and abilities to find productive employment and contribute to growth, innovation, and competitiveness in constantly evolving labor markets. Migrants’ skills are often seen as an untapped resource that, with the right formula of policies, can bolster competitiveness, fuel productivity, and facilitate integration. All too often, immigrant workers across the skills spectrum experience various forms and degrees of transitional assistance needs—resulting from gaps in technical or professional competencies, limited host-country language proficiency, or poor literacy for those who failed to complete formal education. This report explores the challenges to realizing the promise of utilizing immigrants’ endowments more fully and proposes some recommendations for overcoming these challenges.
Immigrant Workers and the Workforce Development System in the United Kingdom
Workforce development efforts in the United Kingdom encompass both centrally driven and decentralized qualities, resulting in differing outcomes in the four UK countries. In England, the system is increasingly employer-led, meaning that the content and provision of training is largely left to employers rather than being regulated by the state. It is also flexible, as individuals who have missed out on formal training can access courses and apprenticeships specifically designed for nontraditional students later in life. This flexibility is likely to benefit immigrants, even though they are not specifically targeted. This report identifies the strengths and weaknesses of the workforce development system in the United Kingdom.
Building New Skills: Immigration and Workforce Development in Canada
Canada has long been considered a world leader in the global hunt for talent, notable for its ability to acquire skilled human capital through a carefully calibrated points system. Although many immigrants to Canada are selected for their skills, the past few decades have seen high unemployment among immigrants, raising concerns that Canada's immigration system is failing to live up to its promise. This report examines the country's workforce development system and policies.
The Immigrant Workforce in Germany: Formal and Informal Barriers to Addressing Skills Deficits
While immigrant workers in Germany face relatively few formal barriers to access training, the country's highly institutionalized and regulated workforce development system creates a number of informal barriers, in part as a result of the central role of employers and occupational associations in the system. This report discusses several of these barriers, including the difficulty of foreign credential recognition, various structural barriers, a lack of familiarity with the workforce development system or the labor market, and a lack of sufficient German language skills.