Apprenticeships 101 Blog Series: Affiliates taking the first steps Part 2

Our commitment to continuing to ensure that Latino job seekers have an effective alternative to access family-sustaining jobs and career advancement opportunities has driven us to promote apprenticeships. This is the third piece in our blog series where we highlight our Affiliate, El Centro de la Raza, which has already taken the first steps.

At UnidosUS, we are proud to share our Affiliate, El Centro de la Raza’s efforts, and achievements in the apprenticeship subject, uplifting opportunities for Latino equity in the workforce.    

Pre-Apprenticeship Recruitment Programs at El Centro de la Raza 

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After a deep study of the demand in specific industries throughout the greater area of Seattle, Washington, El Centro de la Raza focused its workforce development efforts on careers related to construction and jobs surrounding a Green New Deal approach.   

“Understanding the need of these industries and the opportunities that could be brought to our community, we felt we could bridge that gap,” Director of Youth Services, Liz Huizar, explained. 

El Centro de la Raza serves as a bridge between potential apprentices and employers through a couple of programs that empower career direction and well-paying jobs.   

Huizar explained their two recruiting programs share a similar purpose but are targeted to different age groups. “Our Ánimo Program taps young students, youth who dropped out of school,” Huizar said.  

“We are here to support you as you earn your GED, and once you earn it, we now have this pathway of different workforce opportunities that will give you really high salaries.”   

Representatives from El Centro de la Raza continuously reach out to schools from the area, get reports of students who have withdrawn, and contact their families to offer the program. 

Their Ánimo Program then “focuses on these alternative explorations to more hands-on learning that is just as important to society and oftentimes not as explored because we are really hyper emphasize higher education,” Huizar said. Additionally, they offer students support on job readiness, help with resume building, and interview skills.    

On the other hand, El Centro de la Raza created their Workforce Program for anybody who qualifies for an apprenticeship program. For those who had some or no schooling and found themselves in a position where they don’t see their career going much further, that is when this program intervenes.  

“Now, here is a moment to take that work experience you currently have and build what we emphasize, a livable wage career that has the benefits the medical insurance, to push and elevate the people in this country,” Huizar said.  

After noticing the compromise of the individual, El Centro de la Raza proceeds with a case management process in which representatives of their services meet with prospective apprentices as frequently as possible. During this process, participants receive coaching about certifications that would elevate their possibilities of getting a well-paying job and financial literacy mentorship about financial stability and budgeting. 

Before and once they get their apprenticeship opportunity, El Centro de la Raza also hosts conversations with their members about racial equity in the workplace. “We understand some of these industries we are sending our members are established, are old, and not necessarily practice anti-racist frameworks or incorporated racial equity at their forefront,” Huizar said.  

“Having these conversations with our members, so that they are aware of how to process it (racist-related issues) so they have a space to come back and talk to us should they experience something and that these incidents that are still very much real, don’t deter them from moving forward with their career.”   

The Work Continues 

Workforce developmentHuizar highlighted their commitment to the community and advocacy for the Latino workforce. “We have the ability to talk to some of these bigger agencies and apply real pressure in terms of you ‘you need workers,’ but there are some barriers they (potential employees) need to overcome,” Huizar said.  

Today, El Centro de la Raza brings their alumni to talk about their experience at apprenticeship programs, discuss tools and tips that helped them succeed, and motivate them through their thriving stories. 

“We want our members to take their apprenticeship programs also as a step to move into something else, something bigger,” Huizar said.  

If you want to learn more about El Centro de la Raza and their work with apprenticeships:

Want to get involved in what UnidosUS is doing towards apprenticeships? 

Written By: Jorge Flores

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