A recent report shows that while nearly one in three community college students is of immigrant origin, nearly 80 percent of college practitioners say their community college isn’t fully meeting those students’ needs.
These institutions also “face substantial hurdles in supporting this population at all skill levels, with limited research on effective programs and interventions that bridge disparities,” the report states.
The report, which was released Tuesday by Upwardly Global, a national organization that helps immigrants and refugees with international credentials restart their careers in the U.S., says many community colleges don’t provide career services tailored to immigrants and refugees.
“In an era where immigrant-driven growth shapes the U.S. workforce, Upwardly Global continues to champion the inclusion of immigrant workers into professional jobs, an issue much larger than our organization can tackle itself,” Jina Krause-Vilmar, president and CEO of Upwardly Global, said in a press release. “This report underscores the critical need to invest in the community college system, which acts as a vital and accessible pathway to workforce inclusion for immigrant communities, offering insights that dismantle barriers and unlock untapped potential.”
The number of immigrants who arrived in the U.S. with a college degree is on the rise in nearly every state, according to the report. Yet 30 percent of community colleges have no programs to support recredentialing and career re-entry, and only 10 percent are currently “meeting the need,” according to the report.
“Though individuals often enter the U.S. with a wealth of experience and knowledge, they face significant challenges when attempting to continue their careers,” the report states. “Community colleges are well-positioned to help immigrants obtain an affordable postsecondary education, learn English language skills, and prepare for the labor market.”
The report’s findings and analysis are based on interviews and focus groups conducted between May and August with “key stakeholders” across California and Texas, as well as a national survey of more than 80 college practitioners.
The report notes successful practices that helped immigrant students, such as increasing focus on short-term credentials and providing case managers who are knowledgeable about issues unique to immigrants and refugees. It also notes barriers, including insufficient data tracking on immigrant and refugee students and limited staff training on support services. The report also recommends that community colleges leverage diverse sources of funding including statewide and national networks to assist in program expansion moving forward.