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Immigration Policy and the Search for Skilled Workers

Immigratin Policy & the Search for Skilled TalentThe market for high-skilled workers is becoming increasingly global, as are the markets for knowledge and ideas. While high-skilled immigrants in the United States represent a much smaller proportion of the workforce than they do in countries such as Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, these immigrants have an important role in spurring innovation and economic growth in all countries and filling shortages in the domestic labor supply.

This report summarizes the proceedings of a Fall 2014 workshop that focused on how immigration policy can be used to attract and retain foreign talent. Participants compared policies on encouraging migration and retention of skilled workers, attracting qualified foreign students and retaining them post-graduation, and input by states or provinces in immigration policies to add flexibility in countries with regional employment differences, among other topics. They also discussed how immigration policies have changed over time in response to undesired labor market outcomes and whether there was sufficient data to measure those outcomes.

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Meeting & Events

Conference on High-Skilled Immigration Policy & the Global Competition for Talent
September 22-23, 2014
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
Keck Center, Room 100
Washington, DC 20001

Committee Members

A planning committee organized the Fall 2014 conference during which panelists examined the effects of changes in selected industrialized countries’ treatment of temporary and permanent immigrants with advanced training and skills, especially in the sciences, engineering, and software development, in an effort to understand the effects of the policy changes, in relation to other factors, on entry and retention and domestic labor markets and educational patterns.

The planning committee included experts from the research community (e.g., labor and migration economics and law) and individuals with backgrounds in science and engineering. Inasmuch as the principal focus is non-U.S. immigration policies, the committee includes members of non-U.S. origin. Planning committee members included:

Jennifer Hunt, Chair of the Planning Committee, came to Rutgers in 2011 after previous positions at McGill University (2004-2011), the University of Montreal (2001-2004) and Yale (1992-2001). She recently was Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Labor. She received her Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard in 1992 and her Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1987. She is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research in London, and is on the Scientific Advisory Council of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies in Washington D.C. and the Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung in Nuremburg. She has done research in the areas of employment and unemployment policy, immigration, wage inequality, transition economics, crime and corruption. Her current research focuses on immigration and innovation in the United States, the U.S. science and engineering workforce, and the 2008-2009 recession in Germany.

Dr. Hunt received her Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard and her Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is fluent in French, German, and English and proficient in Spanish and Italian.

Edward Alden is the Bernard L. Schwartz senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), specializing in U.S. economic competitiveness. In addition, Mr. Alden is the director of the CFR Renewing America publication series. The former Washington bureau chief for the Financial Times, his work focuses on immigration and visa policy and on U.S. trade and international economic policy.

Mr. Alden was the project co-director of the 2011 Independent Task Force on U.S. Trade and Investment Policy, which was co-chaired by former White House chief of staff Andrew Card and former Senate majority leader Thomas Daschle. He was also the project director for the 2009 Independent Task Force on U.S. Immigration Policy.

Mr. Alden is the author of the book The Closing of the American Border: Terrorism, Immigration, and Security Since 9/11 (HarperCollins), which was named a 2009 finalist for the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize for nonfiction writing.

Mr. Alden has worked as the Canadian bureau chief for the Financial Times based in Toronto and as a reporter at the Vancouver Sun specializing in labor and employment issues. He also was the managing editor of the newsletter Inside U.S. Trade, widely recognized as the leading source of reporting on U.S. trade policies. He has won several national and international awards for his reporting. Mr. Alden has done numerous TV and radio appearances as an analyst on political and economic issues, including NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, McLaughlin Group, NPR, the BBC, CNN, and MSNBC. His work has also appeared in Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, the Japan Times, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Toronto Globe and Mail.

Mr. Alden holds a Master's degree in International Relations from the University of California, Berkeley, and pursued doctoral studies before returning to a journalism career. He also has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of British Columbia. He was the winner of numerous academic awards, including a Mellon fellowship in the humanities and a MacArthur Foundation graduate fellowship.

Ellen Dulberger is Managing Partner of Dulberger Enterprises LLC. She recently retired from her position as Vice President of Enterprise Risk Management at IBM where she was tasked with utilizing the scale and scope of the company's globally integrated enterprise to improve business performance through better identification and management of enterprise level risks. Prior to serving as an IBM vice president, Dr. Dulberger held several strategy development roles. She also worked as an economic analyst producing innovative work on price measurement. This work was used internally to improve demand forecasts for the IBM's products. It was also adopted by rhe U.S. Department of Commerce and other statistical agencies to improve measures of investment in the U.S. and other major economies. As a reknowned expert in economic measurement, Dr. Dulberger has served in a number of advisory roles to government statistical agencies in the U.S. and Canada, and was a member of the Consumer Price Index Advisory Commission to the United States Senate Committee on Finance.

Dr. Dulberger earned her B.A. in Economics from Queens College, CUNY in 1974. She earned her Ph.D. in Economics from CUNY (1986) where she specialized in human resource economics and international trade. Her published work led to improvements in economic measurement of investment in computing equipment and in prices of electronic components.

Since retiring from IBM in 2012, Dr. Dulberger has engaged in a number of consulting activities. Most notably, she has ben recruited by Samuel J. Palmisano, recently retired Chairman of IBM, to consult with him in his new role as Chairman of the Center for Global Enterprise. She also serves as co-chair for the Alumni Professional Development Committee at the Graduate Center of CUNY, and as a board member of the U.S. Alliance Federal Credit Union.

David McKenzie is a Lead Economist in the Development Research Group, Finance and Private Sector Development Unit of the World Bank. He received his BA from the University of Auckland, New Zealand and his Ph.D. in Economics from Yale University. Prior to joining the World Bank, he spent four years as an assistant professor of economics at Stanford University.

His main research is on migration, microenterprises, and methodology for use with developing country data. He has published over 80 articles in journals such as Quarterly Journal of Economics, Science, Review of Economics and Statistics, Journal of the European Economic Association, American Economic Journal: Applied Micro, Journal of Econometrics, and all leading development journals.

He is currently on the editorial boards of the Journal of Development Economics, World Bank Economic Review, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Fiscal Studies and Migration Studies.

Dr. Subhash Singhal joined the Energy and Environment Directorate at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in April 2000 after having worked at Siemens Power Generation (formerly Westinghouse Electric Corporation) for over 29 years. At PNNL, Dr. Singhal provides senior technical, managerial, and commercialization leadership to the Laboratory’s extensive fuel cell and clean energy programs.

At Siemens/Westinghouse, he conducted and/or managed major research, development, and demonstration programs in the field of advanced materials for various energy conversion systems including steam and gas turbines, coal gasification, and fuel cells. From 1984 to 2000, he was manager of Fuel Cell Technology, and was responsible for the development of high temperature solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) for stationary power generation. In this role, he led an internationally recognized group in the SOFC technology and brought this technology from a few-watt laboratory curiosity to fully-integrated 200 kW size power generation systems. He has authored over 85 scientific publications, edited 14 books, received 13 patents, and given almost 300 plenary, keynote and other invited presentations worldwide.

Dr. Singhal is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Utah and a Visiting Professor at the China University of Mining and Technology-Beijing. He serves on the Advisory Boards of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Florida, Florida Institute for Sustainable Energy, Division of Materials Science and Engineering at Boston University, and the Center on Nanostructuring for Efficient Energy Conversion at Stanford University.

Dr. Singhal is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the Washington State Academy of Sciences. He is also a Fellow of four professional societies (American Ceramic Society, The Electrochemical Society, ASM International, and American Association for the Advancement of Science); and a senior member of the Mineral, Metals & Materials Society (TMS). He served on the Electrochemical Society’s Board of Directors during 1992-94, received its Outstanding Achievement Award in High Temperature Materials in 1994, and continues as the Chairman of its International Symposium on Solid Oxide Fuel Cells held biennially since 1989. He served as President of the International Society for Solid State Ionics during 2003-2005. He received the American Ceramic Society’s Edward Orton Jr. Memorial Award in 2001; an Invited Professorship Award from the Japan Ministry of Science, Education and Culture in 2002; Christian Friedrich Schoenbein Gold Medal from the European Fuel Cell Forum in 2006; Fuel Cell Seminar Award for outstanding leadership and innovation in the promotion and advancement of fuel cell technology in 2007; and the prestigious Grove Medal in 2008 for sustained advances in fuel cell technology. He serves on the Editorial Board of the Elsevier’s Journal of Power Sources and is an Associate Editor of ASME’s Journal of Fuel Cell Science and Technology.

He has also served on many national and international advisory panels including those of the National Materials Advisory Board of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, National Science Foundation, Materials Properties Council, U.S. Department of Energy, NATO Advanced Study Institutes and NATO Science for Peace Programs, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), International Energy Agency (IEA), and the European Commission.
Dr. Singhal is currently serving on three Academies’ committees and boards including the Board on Higher Education and Workforce, the Planning Committee on Culture Matters, and the Committee on the Consensus Study to Evaluate the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) of the National Science Foundation.

He earned his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

Paula Stephan is a Professor of Economics at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. She served as the founding associate dean of the school from 1996-2001. Dr. Stephan’s research interests focus on the careers of scientists and engineers and the process by which knowledge moves across institutional boundaries in the economy. Dr. Stephan‘s research has been supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Exxon Education Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the U.S. Department of Labor.

Dr. Stephan has served on several National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committees, and is currently a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Board on Higher Education and Workforce and the Committee to Review the State of Postdoctoral Experiences in Scientists and Engineers. She is a regular participant in the National Bureau of Economics Research’s meetings in Higher Education, and is a participant in the Science and Engineering Workforce Project based at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She currently is serving a three-year term as a member of the Advisory Board for the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Stephan has published numerous articles in journals such as The American Economic Review, Science, The Journal of Economic Literature, Economic Inquiry, The International Economic Review and Social Studies of Science. She is the author of How Economics Shapes Science and co-wrote, with Sharon Levin, Striking the Mother Lode in Science (Oxford University Press, 1992). Dr. Stephan has lectured extensively in Europe. She was a visiting scholar at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, Germany, intermittently during the period 1992-1995.

Dr. Stephan graduated from Grinnell College (Phi Beta Kappa) with a B.A. in Economics and earned both her M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Michigan.  

Project Staff

Study Director
Gail Cohen (Email)

Associate Program Officer
Aqila Coulthurst (Email)


Alfred P. Sloan Foundation