language learning students

Report: Workers who are foreign born – and receiving English upskilling on the job – experience greater retention and career mobility

A first-of-its-kind report from EnGen reveals - from the immigrant and refugee points of view - the impact of this language benefit

Last year, workers who are foreign born accounted for 18.6% of this country’s civilian workforce, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s up from the 18.1% tally in 2022.

The foreign-born population includes legally admitted immigrants, refugees, temporary residents such as students and temporary workers, and undocumented immigrants, according to the BLS.

A new report from EnGenPowering Local Workforces, Building Cohesive Communitiesshares the survey results of roughly 2,500 adult English learners on the benefits of English upskilling they’ve been afforded through employers. According to the report, “English upskilling uses career-specific content customized for working adult learners to help them acquire the English and job skills needed for career and economic mobility.”

For some background, EnGen’s online language platform offers English upskilling that’s tailored to meet workplace needs for more than 130 industry-focused pathways.

(Photo: EnGen)

The report notes, “The results of this survey are designed to equip employers, adult educators, state governments, and other workforce leaders with data and tools to understand the potential of high-quality, career-aligned English instruction to effectively support workforce development initiatives across the country.”

Barriers to learning the English language and other systemic obstacles – contribute to the unemployment or underemployment of 2 million immigrants and refugees. Currently, only 4% of adult English learners are being served.

There has been much discussion around workforce shortages, but there is little research around English upskilling in the workplace.

Key Findings

The main takeaways include:

  • Employers that invest in English upskilling see stronger employee recruitment and retention in return.
  • English instruction powers more engaged and productive workplaces.
  • English upskilling and digital upskilling go hand-in-hand. 
  • English upskilling opens pathways to new credentials, certifications, and careers.
  • English skills build more cohesive local communities.

The report also references insights for specific stakeholders – in addition to employers – including adult education, community college, government, and nonprofits.

‘Promise to power local workforces’

The report states, “The U.S. workforce system misses a critical opportunity to connect this growing labor pool with a foundational workforce skill – English.”

It also notes, “A growing number of employers, adult education programs, state and local government agencies, and other workforce leaders are making investments to fill the gap.

“Upskilling with English – an on-demand, career-aligned, AI-powered approach to English instruction – is showing promise to power local workforces and build more connected local communities.”

To read Powering Local Workforces, Building Cohesive Communities in greater detail, click here.

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