Educational Attainment: Education is an important metric to evaluate economic mobility.

Insights and Analyses

  • Institutional and systemic barriers contribute to disparities in educational attainment for immigrants, which also varies by immigration status. As of 2018, across the state, 37% of naturalized citizens and 36% of U.S.-born individuals had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 29% of LPRs and 13% of undocumented immigrants. 
  • Disparities in educational attainment also vary by race, as different immigrant communities face unique sets of institutional and systemic challenges like language access. Data disaggregation is critical in pointing out these disparities. Among Asian American immigrants in California, in 2018, 79% of Indian immigrants had a bachelor’s degree or higher while only 19% of Hmong, 17% of Cambodian, and 13% of Laotians did. Among Pacific Islander immigrants, only about 7% of both Samoan and Tongan immigrants had a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Some immigrants arrive in the U.S. with credentials and certifications from their country of origin. However, due to barriers in licensing and credentialing, many immigrants are unable to exercise their skills and expertise, leaving many underemployed or unemployed.
  • Immigrant and refugee healthcare professionals who face challenges securing jobs in the U.S., due in part to licensing requirements, could represent a critical pool of responders amidst the pandemic. Estimates by the Migration Policy Institute reveal that in 2017, California had the highest number (or 60,000 individuals) of immigrant health care workers experiencing skill underutilization.

Business leaders and educators form a long-term partnership to create a training program that prepares youth for jobs in Santa Ana’s growth industries.

In 2007, the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Santa Ana Unified School District to develop a training curriculum that provides students, many of whom were a part of the growing immigrant population in the city, with job training in the six growth sectors of the Santa Ana region, with the long-term goal of narrowing the skills gap between the local workforce and local industries. Now a nonprofit organization, High School Inc. Academies Foundation is training local students in automotive and transportation, engineering and construction, global business, health care, manufacturing and new media sectors. During the 2016-2017 academic year, High School Inc. Academies Foundation provided immigrant students with impactful job training, resulting in a 97.5% graduation rate, 157 secured internships, 460 certifications, 95 scholarships, and 176 business and community professional in-class visits. To learn more about the program read here.  

Photo credit: High School Inc. Academies Foundation

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