E.g., 01/21/2021
E.g., 01/21/2021

Skills

Skills

Foreign-born workers increasingly can be found in occupations across the skills spectrum in many countries—high-, middle-, and low-skilled. While much of the focus in the United States is on immigrants in high- and low-skilled professions, an increasing share are working in middle-skilled jobs. The research here examines immigrant workers by skill levels—which sectors they are working in, what share of the workforce they constitute, and how they fare compared to their native-born peers.

Recent Activity

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At the Starting Gate: The Incoming Biden Administration’s Immigration Plans
Policy Briefs
November 2020
By  Doris Meissner and Michelle Mittelstadt
Immigration Data Matters
Reports
November 2020
By  Jeanne Batalova, Andriy Shymonyak and Michelle Mittelstadt
Navigating the Future of Work: The Role of Immigrant-Origin Workers in the Changing U.S. Economy
Reports
October 2020
By  Julia Gelatt, Jeanne Batalova and Randy Capps
Stethoscope sitting on a medical textbook
Fact Sheets
July 2020
By  Jeanne Batalova, Michael Fix and Sarah Pierce

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Students at the University of Hawai‘i–West O‘ahu prepare to graduate during the spring commencement ceremony.

Nearly 13 million immigrants have a four-year college degree or better. But these highly educated immigrants are not spread evenly throughout the labor market. They make up disproportionate shares of certain jobs, especially in the science and technology fields, accounting for 45 percent of software developers, 42 percent of physical scientists, and 29 percent of physicians. Yet there are signs that the trends of this population might be changing, as this article explores.

Two women use their laptops

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the effects of the so-called digital divide for U.S. immigrants and other groups with reduced online connectivity. Internet access and the skills to navigate digital environments have become even more critical for work, education, and health care during the public-health crisis, yet immigrants make up a disproportionately large share of U.S. residents unable to take advantage of these tools.

Health-care workers

Immigrants make up a disproportionately high number of U.S. health-care workers, from doctors and nurses to home health aides. In 2018, more than 2.6 million immigrants worked in the U.S. health-care field. In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, immigrants have played a key role in the frontline response. This article explores the demographics of this group of essential workers by occupation, origin, language, education, and more.

Grape pickers in France

Border closures and lockdowns amid the COVID-19 pandemic have put a chill on intra-EU labor mobility, most immediately with the difficulty for European farmers to gain access to much-needed seasonal workers and for health-care institutions to get care workers. This article explores how these workers, who often face difficult situations, may be more vulnerable now. It also takes on implications for intra-EU labor mobility post-pandemic.

A nurse assists a woman in a wheelchair

Japan is hoping to bring in as many as 350,000 medium-skilled foreign workers over five years to fill labor market gaps in its rapidly aging society. Yet does this system of Specified Skilled Workers represent an effort to secure a workforce without making long-term settlement possible? And considering its linkage to a Technical Intern Training Program much criticized for abusive practices, does this change represent real reform? This article examines these and other issues.

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Commentaries
December 2020
By  Michael Fix, Jeanne Batalova and José Ramón Fernández-Peña
Commentaries
January 2020
By  Meghan Benton
Commentaries
June 2017
By  Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix
Commentaries
January 2015
By  Demetrios G. Papademetriou
FLICKR-US PACIFIC FLEET
Video, Audio
November 9, 2020

MPI and OECD experts discuss the impact of the coronavirus on migration and mobility systems, findings from OECD’s International Migration Outlook 2020, opportunities for innovation, what labor demands may emerge, and the role of migration in North America and Europe at this challenging point in history.

Audio
October 23, 2019

This event hosted by MPI Europe and the Research Unit of the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration featured a discussion on research into legal migration pathways for work and training for low- and middle-skilled migrants.

Andrew Selee and Jason DeParle
Video, Audio
August 20, 2019

Marking the launch of New York Times reporter Jason DeParle's book tracing the arc of migration and its impacts through the life of an extended family of Filipino migrants over a three-decade period, from Manila and through Dubai to the Houston area, this conversation with MPI's Andrew Selee and the World Bank's Dilip Ratha explores migration at both a global and very personal level.

Video, Audio
May 17, 2019

With the U.S. administration calling for the United States to adopt a more “merit-based” immigrant selection system, this conversation focused on what policymakers should consider in designing—and managing—immigrant selection systems in a time of intense labor-market and demographic change.

Video, Audio
May 9, 2019

At this discussion, experts from MPI and Southern Methodist University’s Texas-Mexico Center offer an overview of trends and key characteristics of highly skilled Mexican adults at the national level and for Texas, including educational levels by legal status and top industries of employment across Texas metro areas. They also discuss the policy implications of these findings.

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Recent Activity

Reports
December 2020

The link between climate change and migration is a complex one. Whether individuals move or stay in place can be voluntary or involuntary, a proactive strategy or last resort, and is part of a bigger story of global mobility and personal networks. This report examines this complicated relationship, highlights limitations of climate response measures to date, and presents an alternative, flexible approach based on the involvement of affected communities.

Commentaries
December 2020

With the U.S. health-care system buckling under the resurgent COVID-19 outbreak, policymakers could undertake efforts to enable skilled, underemployed international health-care professionals to practice. This would both make the health system more resilient and flexible, as well as introduce critical language and cultural skills important during the contact-tracing and vaccine rollout phases of the pandemic response, as this commentary explores.

Reports
December 2020

Un desafío y una oportunidad clave que enfrentará la administración de Joe Biden será cómo abordar la cooperación regional en relación a la migración. Este informe explora la evolución de la movilidad entre los Estados Unidos, México y Centroamérica y presenta una estrategia para ampliar las oportunidades en cuanto a la migración legal, abordar necesidades humanitarias, fortalecer la aplicación de la ley y mitigar algunas de las fuerzas que provocan la emigración.

Reports
November 2020

Addressing regional cooperation around migration will be among the immigration challenges and opportunities facing the incoming Biden administration. This report examines how movement between the United States, Mexico, and Central America has evolved in recent decades, and lays out a four-part strategy to expand opportunities for legal migration, address humanitarian protection needs, improve enforcement, and mitigate some of the forces driving people to emigrate.

Video, Audio, Webinars
November 9, 2020

MPI and OECD experts discuss the impact of the coronavirus on migration and mobility systems, findings from OECD’s International Migration Outlook 2020, opportunities for innovation, what labor demands may emerge, and the role of migration in North America and Europe at this challenging point in history.

Reports
November 2020

Around the world, governments are grappling with how to combat the COVID-19 pandemic while also managing the economic fallout of policies put in place to stop the virus’ spread. Global migration has dropped sharply amid border closures and travel restrictions. This reflection takes stock of policy responses to the pandemic thus far, and of the challenges (and some opportunities) on the horizon for migration systems, labor markets, and integration of newcomers.

Policy Briefs
November 2020

Joe Biden pledged during his campaign to reverse some of the most restrictive immigration actions undertaken during Donald Trump’s four years in office. While some actions can be undone with the stroke of a pen, others will take more time. This policy brief outlines the incoming administration’s top immigration priorities, examines challenges and opportunities ahead, and previews MPI policy ideas that could improve the immigration system and advance the national interest.

Reports
October 2020

Immigrants and their U.S.-born children are key drivers of U.S. labor force growth. As some occupations grow and others decline, this report explores how these immigrant-origin workers fit within the changing world of work. It examines the degree to which workers from different racial/ethnic groups hold growing and declining jobs, and what changes in the mix of jobs mean for workforce development and immigration policy.

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