Digital Equity: Preparing Latinos for the Workforce of Tomorrow
with Frankie Miranda of the Hispanic Federation
According to the National Skills Coalition, workers of color are disproportionately impacted by a digital skills gap, including half of Hispanic workers age 16 to 64.
Frankie Miranda, President and CEO of the Hispanic Federation, joins host Liliana Henao Holmes for a conversation on the causes of this gap, and an initiative aimed at boosting digital skills and providing workforce training in the Latino community.
Sep 01, 2022
Henao Holmes: The need for digital skills and access to technology came abruptly to light and was accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, as businesses and schools pivoted to remote work and learning. However, the National Skills Coalition reports that nearly one-third of all U.S. workers lack digital skills. Hello, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Liliana Henao Holmes. According to that same report, workers of color are disproportionately impacted by a digital skills gap, including more than half of Hispanic workers age 16 to 64. Joining me to discuss an initiative to address this gap is Frankie Miranda, president and CEO of the Hispanic Federation. Frankie, bienvenido, welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers."
Miranda: Thank you for having me, Liliana.
Henao Holmes: Frankie, share with us a little bit about the mission and history of the Hispanic Federation, please.
Miranda: Sure. The Hispanic Federation is a national organization dedicated to empower and advance the Latino community. We do that by providing grants and capacity-building to direct-service providers that are bilingual/bicultural across the country, and also ensuring that if there is some sort of gap in services, that the Federation can work in collaboration with these member agencies and create new programs to ensure that those needs are met.
Henao Holmes: Now, Frankie, as you may know, one of the many issues facing the Hispanic population in the United States is the digital divide. Latino workers are 14% of overall workers but represent 35% of workers with no digital skills and 20% of those with limited digital skills. What has your research brought to light as the causes of this gap?
Miranda: It has many different causes, but mostly is because our community, members from our community had been focusing on areas of jobs that require less use of the technology. We're talking about people working in manual labor, that are working in the farm, farmworkers, meatpacking workers, many different areas. And we're underrepresented in other sectors of the economy that relies more on digital skills. And what is more troubling about this is that during the impact of the pandemic, we know that our community was disproportionately impacted, and these were the people that were keeping us safe at home, but at the same time continue to be relegated to certain areas of the economy that require less access to digital skills that became lifesaving during the pandemic.
Henao Holmes: Now, just like you said, because Latino workers tend to work in less digital-facing fields, they're at higher risk for future under- and unemployment. So what is the Hispanic Federation doing to help bridge this gap?
Miranda: We need to ensure that future generations and current generations of members of our community have access to digital training. While we are consumers of digital products, we're behind when it comes to digital skills necessary for the jobs of the future. We know that in the next decade, 50% of tasks across all industries are expected to go digital, eliminating around 39 million jobs. And at the same time, we know that the jobs of the future, at least two-thirds of those jobs will require digital skills. And that is why the Hispanic Federation, in collaboration with Comcast, we are creating programs around the country, digital centers where people can go and get from basic skills to really advanced skills that are changing the lives of families across the country.
Henao Holmes: Frankie, as you know, immigration status is a major obstacle to Hispanic workers accessing training programs or services. How does the Hispanic Federation plan to address that situation and break down barriers of language and fear by the undocumented population?
Miranda: Well, there is a crisis of trust in our community. We have seen that our community has been a target of so many attacks and misinformation. And that is why it is so important to work with community-based organizations that have been there for members of our community throughout this pandemic and even before. These are the trusted partners in community. They are the ones that can provide not only the information necessary, but culturally competent and linguistically competent multi-service wraparound services. So you may be coming for digital skills, but you will be able to also get connected to services related to immigration or anything affecting your families. So that is why our investment right now is to ensure that those organizations working in communities across the country have the necessary resources, get the curriculum, get the materials and equipment so they can actually prepare the workforce of the future.
Henao Holmes: Finally, Frankie, if anyone in our audience wants to learn more about these programs and services or pitch in and volunteer or teach, where can they find out more information?
Miranda: For more information, you can visit our website, hispanicfederation.org. That's hispanicfederation.org.
Henao Holmes: Frankie Miranda of the Hispanic Federation, thank you so much for your time today.
Miranda: Thank you for having me, Liliana.
Henao Holmes: And thank you for joining us as well. For more great conversations with leaders in your community and across the nation, visit comcastnewsmakers.com. I'm Liliana Henao Holmes.