Latino Workforce Development (part 1)

with Ignacio Salazar of SER, Jobs for Progress National

National Economy and Business

Living paycheck to paycheck is a reality many Americans face today, as income does not always keep up with cost of living increases. A 2015 Pew Research Center report states that close to half of those polled in the Latino community struggle with this issue.

Ignacio Salazar, President and C.E.O. of SER, Jobs for Progress National, discusses programs aimed at better equipping Latinos with the necessary skills to thrive in today’s job market.  This discussion continues in part two of Latino Workforce Development.

Interview recorded Sept 6, 2017.  Hosted by Robert Traynham.  Part 1 of 2.

Read a partial transcript of this interview below:

Traynham: According to a 2015 report by the PEW Research Center, about half of Latinos interviewed said that their family income is not keeping up with their cost of living. And as the cost of living continues to rise, economic security can become further and further out of reach. Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Comcast Newsmakers.” I´m Robert Traynham. Joining me is Ignacio Salazar, President and CEO of SER — Jobs for Progress National. Ignacio, welcome to the program.

Salazar: Thank you, it´s a pleasure to be here.

Traynham: You know, and more and more, we´re hearing these stories about families being squeezed from both ends. They´re working, they´re contributing to the economy, they´re paying their taxes, they´re paying their rent, but just barely. They feel as though that they´re working harder for less money. What is the remedy to this, Ignacio?

Salazar: Well, you know, we´ve got an economy that´s kind of upside down right now. You´ve got 1% of the population that controls 90% of the wealth, and so we´ve got to equip individuals with education, with skills, with training, that prepares them for the jobs that are most available and have upward mobility. And so that´s our task, make sure that we´ve got that connection. It´s not that we don´t have enough jobs in the market. We have a disconnect between the skills that people have and the skills that are required for the jobs available, that are available.

Traynham: So it sounds like perhaps maybe there´s a disconnect between what´s needed and what the workforce currently comprised of. Is that workforce development?

Salazar: That´s workforce development, absolutely, and that´s what we´ve been doing for the last 53 years in this country, and we´re part of a national network. We have affiliates in 200 cities throughout the country and 18 different states. And our task is to make sure that we equip individuals with the skills that relate back to the economy.

Traynham: So, Ignacio, a lot of folks may say, look, I want to go back to school. I obviously want to keep up with the current trends, but I can´t afford it. I just mentioned a few moments ago that more and more people feel squeezed, barely being able to put food on the table. How can you expect them to perhaps go back to school and pay for it? Is it a student loan? Is it putting it on their credit cards? What does that look like?

Salazar: Well, you know, for too many individuals, they´re doing both. They´re in school, and they´re working, because that becomes a reality. The cost of higher education today has escalated to the point where it´s not realistic for many individuals. And so you find within the Hispanic Latino community that there´s a huge percentage that go into two-year community colleges because of the cost, and that´s the reality. And then it will progress to the four-year institution. So that´s part of a solution. Also making connections, having bridges between high school and college and having the individuals take courses that are transferrable and working with institutions to make sure that there´s affordability built into the recruitment of individuals and working together to create those pathways.

Traynham: The conversation is only beginning,ladies and gentlemen.Click the link below for more of our discussion.