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Future Workforce Needs May Force Education, Immigration Reforms

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on January 09, 2016

Future Workforce Needs May Force Education, Immigration Reforms

With manufacturing jobs going unfilled across the nation, and up to two million expected to be vacant over the coming decade, the need for both education and immigration reform is becoming increasingly apparent. American workers may lack the skill sets necessary for these jobs; pointing to an urgent need for education reform. Immigrants with the right skill sets face huge obstacles in getting permission to work in the country; pointing to an equally urgent need for immigration reform, especially concerning business-related immigration.

Economic Losses Result from Poor Education, Immigration Policies

Manufacturing alone accounts for nearly $100 billion in the state economy. Production of lifesaving medications, the development of new avenues for energy production, the innovation of products with an eye toward sustainability, and progress on digital fronts are all essential parts of the manufacturing picture in Illinois. The transformative economic power of these industries cannot be fully realized without progress on the fronts of education reform and immigration reform.

Illinois Industries, Educators, & Community Leaders Working Together

Representatives of various manufacturing industries might consider partnering with leaders in the community, as well as educators from high schools, colleges, and technical schools across the state. The goal of these partnerships would be to enhance educational opportunities, so that graduates are better prepared for available jobs in those industries. One of the main avenues for implementing these changes would likely be the integration of programs that are recognized as credentialed by industry standards.

These programs could be added to general coursework at the high school level, with more availability at the secondary and post-secondary levels. The addition of hands-on training opportunities would also be helpful. This type of collaboration could help the future workforce of Illinois be more prepared for the jobs available in the market.

Some efforts toward this end are already underway. A new commission has been created, the Higher Education Commission of the Future of the Workforce, with Blackburn College president Dr. John Comerford appointed as its head. The Commission was created during the legislative session in the spring of 2015. It will draw on a broad base of business expertise, higher education, and economic development to carry out a review of current efforts to improve the alignment between the needs of the workforce in various regions of the state and available post-secondary programs.

Immigration Issues for Illinois Businesses

Talent development and educational progress will definitely play a large role in workforce viability over the next several years, but changes need to be made to the immigration system in order to allow those with much-needed skill sets to come into Illinois to work for local businesses. This will require revisions to the current system of immigration to modernize the approach for workforce immigration. The current system has a lot of problems, and they must be addressed, both individually and overall, in order to have an immigration system that is responsive to the needs of business. The changes that would be most beneficial include:

  • improved border security
  • a more responsive employment verification system
  • better caps for employment-based visas
  • an improved system for green cards, thereby giving workers the ability to gain permanent legal status

These kinds of changes must be implemented on a federal level, as well as on the state level, in order to be truly effective. Business immigration lawyers in the Chicago area are looking forward to these and other changes that are focused on curbing illegal immigration and encouraging legal entry.

Consulting an Illinois Immigration Lawyer

Illinois is home to a large immigrant population. Not only do immigrants come in legally for work, there are also large numbers of illegal immigrants in the state. Some industries, such as agriculture, rely almost solely on immigrant labor, while others have large numbers of business owners who are themselves, immigrants. It’s a patchwork landscape for immigrants in Illinois, with some opportunities far more easy to pursue than others. For immigrants and business owners who find themselves facing problems with visa caps, green card issuance, or any other immigration issue, it’s important that they consult an immigration lawyer. Immigration lawyers in Illinois are typically very familiar with issues like these, and may be able to offer advice about recent changes to immigration law and little-known aspects of more familiar statutes.

Looking Toward the Future of Immigration and Education in Illinois

With efforts to reform immigration and education, the future workforce needs of Illinois can easily be met. However, such changes will require time and effort; the political landscape will have a large influence on what kinds of reforms can be implemented, if any progress is allowed at all. Without the necessary reforms and adjustments to educational programs and immigration laws, the Illinois workforce may be facing a stagnation that could negatively impact the economy, and by extension, businesses in the state.