Connecting Latinos to jobs in emerging industries

We convene students, partners in Arizona for roundtable with Commerce Dept. on increasing pathways to in-demand careers 

At UnidosUS we work with our partners to ensure Hispanics can share in the nation’s economic opportunities, including the jobs of the future. We often hear about the great appeal of educational and training programs that provide a pathway into high-growth industries, offer hands-on experience and flexible schedules. However, too often these opportunities are not easily accessible for Latinos and other communities that are underrepresented in emerging, technology-based fields.  

From left: U.S. Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary Don Graves and UnidosUS Arizona State Advocacy Director Enrique Davis Mazlum

Last month, we collaborated with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) to host a roundtable discussion at Gateway Community College in Phoenix, AZ featuring U.S. Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary Don Graves on how government, the private sector, Hispanic-Service Institutions (HSIs) and community-based organizations can strengthen the power and success of career pathway programs, especially those in the semiconductor and manufacturing industries. Participants included students and presidents of HSIs, state and congressional officials, and community partners.   

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“The Biden-Harris administration and the Department of Commerce are committed to building a modern 21st century workforce that places equity at its center,” said Secretary Graves. “Through the CHIPS & Science Act we are equipping the next generation of American innovators with the skills, knowledge, and tools they need to be successful in an increasingly digital economy. We look forward to continuing our work alongside partners like HACU and UnidosUS to write the next chapter of economic prosperity for all communities across the country.”   

Students at the roundtable mentioned the difficulty many of them experience in finding opportunities that provide both the education and the training needed to find a job. They also shared that immigration status further exacerbates these challenges, particularly for those who are undocumented or DACA recipients.   

Participants also discussed the importance of career pathway programs as key to success for many students. However, they mentioned that more needs to be done to improve them, including providing childcare support and more flexible schedules for those who may need them.  

The community college leaders also shared some of the challenges that they face, elevating the lack of funding and resources to continue to grow career pathway programs, particularly in construction trades, STEM and engineering. They reiterated the importance of community colleges in developing these flexible programs and the vital role of strengthening the teacher workforce. Attendees also touched on the importance of breaking down the silos that exist in these ecosystems and encouraging greater partnerships between community colleges and employers to contribute to a growing and diverse workforce.  

Several key Department of Commerce initiatives were discussed, including the CHIPS for America program and its goals of tripling the number of graduates in semiconductor fields, filling approximately 100,000 technician jobs and nearly 100,000 construction jobs.  

“CHIPS for America is a historic investment not just in our nation’s technological future, but also in delivering on the promises of emerging technologies for students, workers, and families,” said UnidosUS Senior Vice President of Programs Mauricio Garcia. “Ensuring the success of these investments will require unlocking the full potential of America’s diversity, including the Latino community, and closely collaborating across government, industry, education, and community organizations.” 

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