Tech Initiative Shows How to Tackle Digital Divide for Latino...

Initiative Shows How to Tackle Digital Divide for Latino Households

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A growing slice of the workforce is Hispanic, but a disproportionate number of Hispanic households don’t have regular access to the internet. It could be cutting many off from the digital economy. An initiative is aiming to tackle this issue.

In Oregon, the Hispanic population grew 30% between the 2010 and 2020 census, comprising 14% of the state’s population.

Diana Caba, assistant vice president for policy and community engagement with the Hispanic Federation, said one way to ensure people in these communities have the skills they need for the economy is to meet them where they are.

“Recognizing that new technologies are dramatically changing the workforce requirements of our economy.” said Caba, “For Latino nonprofits that are engaged in workforce training to best serve the needs of the people they train the idea is to adapt a curriculum and develop capacity to prepare students and workers for the digital economy.”

The Latino Digital Accelerator Initiative currently operates in ten states, including Washington and California, but not yet in Oregon. However, the need is great across the nation: as many as one-third of Latino families don’t have regular access to the internet.

Caba said the Latino Digital Accelerator Initiative started just before the COVID-19 pandemic, which presented a new challenge.

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“With the onset of the pandemic,” said Caba, “that really led everyone from a panic to pivot moment of how do we administer these types of programs for the community knowing that that’s exactly what this initiative is there to address – the lack of digital skills that are found in the Latino community.”

Caba said the future belongs to those who are connected. She said that applies not just to people looking to connect to education resources like universities, but also for people who may be on less traditional paths like technical colleges and apprenticeships.

“To be able to still access quality training that will lead to quality employment,” said Caba, “that really at the end of the day is what this initiative boils down to.”

Una parte cada vez mayor de la fuerza laboral es hispana, pero un numero desproporcionado de hogares latinos no tienen acceso regular a Internet. Esto podria estar alejando a muchos de la economia digital, pero una iniciativa tiene como objetivo abordar este problema.

En Oregon, la poblacion hispana crecio un 30 por ciento entre el censo de 2010 y 2020, lo que representa el 14 por ciento de la poblacion del estado.

Diana Caba, de la Federacion Hispana, dice que una forma de garantizar que las personas de estas comunidades tengan las habilidades que necesitan para la economia es ir a donde ellos estan.

“Reconocer que las nuevas tecnologias estan cambiando drasticamente los requisitos de la fuerza laboral en nuestra economia,” dice Caba. “Para las organizaciones latinas sin fines de lucro que participan en la capacitacion atendiendo de la mejor manera las necesidades de las personas, la idea es adaptar un plan de estudios y desarrollar la capacidad para preparar a estudiantes y trabajadores para la economia digital.”

La Iniciativa Aceleradora Digital Latina actualmente opera en diez estados, incluidos Washington y California, pero aun no en Oregon. Sin embargo, la necesidad es grande en todo el pais: hasta un tercio de las familias latinas no tener acceso regular a Internet.

Caba dice que la Iniciativa Aceleradora Digital Latina comenzo justo antes de la pandemia de COVID-19, la cual presento un nuevo desafio.

“Con el inicio de la pandemia,” opina Caba, “se llevo realmente a todos desde el panico al momento crucial de plantearse como administrar este tipo de programas para la comunidad sabiendo que esto es exactamente lo que esta iniciativa debe abordar: la falta de habilidades digitales en la Comunidad latina.”

Caba dice que el futuro pertenece a aquellos que estan conectados. Ella dice que se aplica no solo para las personas que buscan conectarse a recursos educativos como universidades, sino tambien a personas que pueden estar en caminos menos tradicionales como colegios tecnicos y entrenamientos.

“Poder seguir accediendo a una formacion de calidad que conduzca a un empleo de calidad, eso es, al final lo que pretende esta iniciativa.”

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.

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