“Immigrant workers have always been essential,” Erica Cuevas and Laura Roberts of grantee partner JFF write in an opinion piece for RealClear Policy. 

COVID-19 has introduced the term “essential worker,” and of the almost 49 million essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic, nearly 6 million are immigrants.

“It’s hard to deny that immigrant workers are and will continue to hold up the U.S. economy, particularly in this time of crisis,” the piece goes on to say. “For many companies, this is old news: they have long seen this population as an asset to their business and invested in them as such.”

JFF’s new report, “Unlocking Hidden Value: How Investing in Immigrant Talent Benefits Your Bottom Line,” supported by the WES Mariam Assefa Fund, underscores the value of immigrant workers. Helping employers to invest in immigrant talent and improve job quality has been an important early focus of the Fund, and JFF is one of three inaugural grantee partners focusing on this work. JFF set out to explore employer practices and support the replication and scale of successful strategies. The report lays out a convincing case for employer investment in immigrant and refugee workers.

Investing in immigrant and refugee talent offers a wide range of benefits to employers: improved retention rates, increased employee diversity, and prepared talent pipelines. Immigrant workers deliver a massive boost to individual businesses and to the economy as a whole, accounting for nearly $2 trillion of total U.S. GDP.

JFF’s report highlights Postmates, an employer that developed a pipeline to recruit, train, and off-board immigrant and refugee talent. Postmates is also advocating for vital policies to protect immigrants.

“Postmates was founded by an immigrant, and our business is made possible by the local merchants and flexible workers of all stripes and backgrounds who contribute to our platform every day,” says Vikrum Aiyer of Postmates in the RealClear Policy piece. “That’s why we’ve constantly spoken out on the importance of supporting immigrants, and why we recruit, hire and provide professional development to DACA recipients through apprentice and pre-apprentice programs. We rely on both American-born and immigrant workers to power our platform, and simply put, we cannot succeed without them.”

The report shows companies how they can meet immigrant workers’ unique needs and effectively unlock their own potential. For example, one company that invested in ELL and other basic education programs reported a 123 percent return on its investment, according to JFF. Other companies that made similar investments have noted similar gains. Talent practices that help recruit, grow, and develop a company’s immigrant workforce benefit everyone.  

Read the full report on JFF.org.

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