The Migration Policy Institute issued a short study on immigration to solve labor shortages. the study attempts to frame the issues, and does not delve into the research or make any conclusions about what the U.S. should do.
This topic is increasingly becoming center stage for immigration reform, endorsed by Republican governors and industries. My own take is that if there is a change in U.S. practices to increase immigration to meet labor demands, that the private sector, including business and labor will try and will likely succeed to gaining control of design and implementation, leaving the federal government on the sidelines.
When is there a labor shortage?
“There is not a clear answer for when a shortage rises to the threshold of being genuine. In practice, it is often a judgment call for government to decide which jobs seem genuinely hard to fill, and where immigration seems to fit in.”
On the role of technology to replace workers and solve a problem: “it is uncertain how quickly into what extent new technologies will be adopted. For example, advances in crop harvesting robotics could potentially transform soft fruit production such as strawberries.. Yet, low profit margins in the sector mean that, for the for seeable future, this technology remains out of reach for most producers.”
The report also sites questions about Japan’s feasibility to use robots to take care of elder care. And, “relying on immigration to address shortages can lead to employers and governments, putting off necessary investments, such as upscaling local workers for a hard to fill newly emerging jobs or improving productivity and sectors through mechanization and restructuring jobs.”
Examples of fitting immigrants to their best use: Employer-sponsored program; specialized visas, such as tech visas; using a point system that are met some high scoring candidates, as in Canada. Talent visas, such as electrical workers; permits that apply to a particular sector, such as healthcare.
More than a job assignment: “Attention needs to be given to providing these immigrant workers with opportunities to develop social and provide professional networks so that they can thrive.”