Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

U.S. should re-evaluate definition of skilled workers in immigration policy, experts say

Date:
June 26, 2014
Source:
Rice University
Summary:
New immigration research suggests that the United States should re-evaluate its definition of skilled workers to include informal skills of migrant workers.

New immigration research from Rice University, the University of North Carolina and the Centre for Population, Poverty and Public Policy Studies suggests the U.S. should re-evaluate its definition of skilled workers to include informal skills of migrant workers.

Related Articles


The study, "Identifying and Measuring the Lifelong Human Capital of 'Unskilled' Migrants in the Mexico-U.S. Migrator Circuit," draws on a binational multistage research project that involved interviews with 320 Mexican migrants and return migrants in North Carolina and Guanajuato, Mexico. The study identifies lifelong human capital -- knowledge and technical and social skills -- acquired and transferred throughout these migrants' careers.

The researchers discovered that skills among these migrants not only include basic education and English, but also technical and social skills and competencies acquired informally on and off the job throughout their lives -- skills that are used in construction, domestic, retail and hospitality work.

Sergio Chavez, assistant professor of sociology at Rice and one of the study's co-authors, noted that when these life skills are acquired through education or another accredited process, it is advantageous to the migrant worker. Chavez said that current U.S. immigration policy gives preference to these "skilled" immigrants who rank high on traditional human capital characteristics, such as education levels and other formal credentials, and allows them to enter the U.S.; but the policy limits the entry of "unskilled" migrants, a categorization that ignores the substantial informal skills they bring to U.S. labor markets.

"Unlike migrants whose human capital is largely acquired in formal learning environments leading to credentialed and organized knowledge, we discovered that migrants in our study with low levels of education acquire most of their skills informally through interaction and observation both on and off the job," Chavez said. "This is not to say that migrants with formal credentials do not acquire some skills informally before migration, but that for migrants with low levels of formal education, job skills are learned predominantly in informal social contexts rather than classrooms and thus are often hidden skills. It is therefore especially important that the assessment of migrant welfare gains according to models of human capital account for the acquisition of lifelong human capital."

Chavez and his co-authors said the study has broad implications for migration policies of both the U.S. and Mexico. "These individuals with skills acquired informally often have much to contribute to the U.S. labor markets," Chavez said. "Unfortunately, current immigration policies severely limit the number of these individuals who can enter the U.S."

Chavez said that instead of focusing only on the continued expansion of immigration policy preferences for narrowly defined skilled migrants, the U.S. government needs to consider more carefully what is meant by "skilled workers" and design fairer and more effective immigration policies that match their abilities to the specific needs of U.S. industry and thereby recognize the economic contributions of all migrants within a lifelong human capital framework.

The study will be featured in more depth in a forthcoming book, "Skills of the Unskilled: Work and Social Mobility Among Mexican Migrants" (University of California Press).

The study's lead author was Jacqueline Hagan, the Robert G. Parr Distinguished Term Professor at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill; the co-author was Jean Luc Demonsant at the Centre for Population, Poverty and Public Policy Studies in [city/country]. The study was funded by UNC Carolina Population Center, the UNC Research Council and the research program of the Mexican Higher Education Secretary.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rice University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jacqueline Hagan, Jean Luc Demonsant, Sergio Chαvez. Identifying and Measuring the Lifelong Human Capital of 'Unskilled' Migrants in the Mexico-US Migratory Circuit. Journal on Migration and Human Security, 2014; 2 (2): 76 DOI: 10.14240/jmhs.v2i2.26

Cite This Page:

Rice University. "U.S. should re-evaluate definition of skilled workers in immigration policy, experts say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140626141704.htm>.
Rice University. (2014, June 26). U.S. should re-evaluate definition of skilled workers in immigration policy, experts say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140626141704.htm
Rice University. "U.S. should re-evaluate definition of skilled workers in immigration policy, experts say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140626141704.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
EU Pushes Google For Worldwide Right To Be Forgotten

EU Pushes Google For Worldwide Right To Be Forgotten

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — Privacy regulators recommend Google expand its requested removals to apply to all its web domains. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Who Will Failed Nuclear Talks Hurt Most?

Who Will Failed Nuclear Talks Hurt Most?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) — With no immediate prospect of sanctions relief for Iran, and no solid progress in negotiations with the West over the country's nuclear programme, Ciara Lee asks why talks have still not produced results and what a resolution would mean for both parties. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
FCC Forces T-Mobile To Alert Customers Of Data Throttling

FCC Forces T-Mobile To Alert Customers Of Data Throttling

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — T-Mobile and the FCC have reached an agreement requiring the company to alert customers when it throttles their data speeds. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins