E.g., 06/25/2024
E.g., 06/25/2024
Maximizing Potential: How Countries Can Address Skills Deficits within the Immigrant Workforce
October 2013

Maximizing Potential: How Countries Can Address Skills Deficits within the Immigrant Workforce

More than ever, human capital is seen as the ultimate resource. As a result, 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.

Addressing these skills deficits is no easy task. It relies on four main actors: the migrants themselves, service providers, employers, and policymakers. This report explores the challenges to realizing the promise of utilizing immigrants’ endowments more fully and proposes some recommendations for overcoming these challenges. If policymakers can develop institutions robust enough to accommodate the complex learner profiles of migrants, they will be on much better footing to take advantage of immigration rather than seeing it as an obstacle for workforce development systems. 

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. The Skills Needs of Immigrants

III. Skills Programs Targeted at Immigrants

A. Standardized Introduction and Language Programs for New Arrivals

B. Language and Employability Training for Migrants

IV. Reforming Mainstream Services

A. Adapting Training Systems to Support Nontraditional Learners

B. Reforms to Public Employment Services

V. Engaging Employers

VI. Conclusions