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Lag in Education Makes it Harder for Immigrants to Find Jobs, OECD Reports

  • Lisa Bryant

FILE - A Syrian refugee boy holds up a placard in Arabic, during class at a remedial education center run by Relief International in the Zaatari Refugee Camp, near Mafraq, Jordan, Jan. 21, 2016.

FILE - A Syrian refugee boy holds up a placard in Arabic, during class at a remedial education center run by Relief International in the Zaatari Refugee Camp, near Mafraq, Jordan, Jan. 21, 2016.

Immigrant children have less access to education than their native-born peers, making it more difficult for them to enter the job market as adults, according to a new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The findings by the Paris-based group show only 12 of the 35 member states appear on track to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SGD) on education. They follow a U.N. report that shows the importance of education in reaching the SDG goals on issues like environment.

But as OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria pointed out at a news conference, there is good news: Investment in education in a number of nations is on the rise.

FILE - Afghan refugee schoolgirls attend a class at a makeshift school on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Feb. 23, 2015.

FILE - Afghan refugee schoolgirls attend a class at a makeshift school on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Feb. 23, 2015.

"Governments are becoming more innovative in financing our education despite tight budgets,” Gurria said, “including by shifting costs to students and households ... or with loans repayable once you have a job, and things like that."

But the study finds gender imbalances remain. There are fewer women, for example, studying science and engineering.

In addition, the benefits of education do not reach everyone equally.

"[In] many countries, immigrants tend to lag behind their native-born peers when it comes to educational attainment at all stages. And that impedes their future integration in the labor market, or makes it more difficult," Gurria said.

There are also fewer immigrant children enrolled in preschools, which the OECD says are critical to developing their cognitive, emotional and social skills.

But there are exceptions. In England, for example, immigrant children are more likely to study and get degrees from higher educational institutes than non-immigrant children.

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