Chinese immigrant Ping Ting has big dreams — but also a practical head on her shoulders. When she arrived in Brooklyn in 2016, she investigated the fields with the most employment opportunities and settled on information technology, ideally in the medical sector.
It’s a smart move. To remain competitive in the 21st century, U.S. employers will need more skilled technology workers. By 2022, the United States is projected to face a shortfall of 1 million workers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
I want to study information technology. If I study and get a degree, then I can do anything.
U.S. immigrants like Ping are already proving critical to filling this gap. In 2014, 11.9 percent of U.S. computer systems analysts were foreign-born. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for U.S. citizens in that profession was just 2.3 percent.
Once Ping improves her English skills — she is currently taking English language classes at the University Settlement, a nonprofit that helps new immigrants assimilate — she’ll enroll in information technology classes at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. “If I study and get a degree, then I can do anything,” she says. But she also knows better than to project too far into the future. “I just do one step, and reach my goal, and then I can try for the next one,” she says.
As a member of New York’s immigrant community, Ping says this attitude is vital. In 2016, she came to the United States with her husband, who works at a financial institution. Although the process went smoothly for her and was relatively brief, her husband’s application had been in the works for 20 years.
Ping believes the United States should enact reform that welcomes immigrants who come here legally. “You need people to work jobs. I agree that we should welcome immigrants, and there should be a legal process,” she says.
When she’s not studying, Ping, along with her husband, spends time with her mother-in-law. “I’m with my mother-in-law four days a week. Too much, right?” she says with a laugh. Actually, she enjoys the time they spend shopping and planning meals. It took a long time, but now the family is happy to finally be together.