As New England Ages, Immigrants Make Up A Growing Share Of Health Workers

New England is an old region, and not just by historical standards.

The population here is aging faster than almost any other place in the country. Fewer people are having children, and many of the states struggle to keep younger generations living and working here.

And as New England’s baby boomers grow older, and live longer, the need for health care workers also grows.

‘The Bedrock of the Health Care Industry’

Standing at the front of a classroom, an instructor writes basic medical definitions on a whiteboard. Nine students from all over the world scribble down notes and shout out answers in unison.

Thirty-year-old Ayehu Lakew sits next to classmates from Nepal, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. They’re all here for a class called “Working with Frail Elders” at Boston-based Jewish Vocational Services. It’s a nonprofit job-training program focused on specific industries like food service and health care, both sectors facing labor shortages.

With a bright smile spreading across her face, Lakew says, in imperfect English, that after about two months, the course is going well.

“Oh, it’s good, I like it,” she says. “You know, I don’t have experience before, but I want to be, like, nursing in the future. This is good start for me. Before I got my baby I used to work in the parking place.”

Lakew was a fashion model in Ethiopia before she arrived in Boston four years ago on a diversity visa. Her baby son was born here and she’s hopeful that with this training, she won’t need to return to her job as a parking attendant. She laughs and suggests that we check back with her in five years to gauge her progress.

Read the full article here.

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