Communities of Color in the Workforce

Today’s blog continues our four-part series that looks into cultural changes in the new workforce. Today, we discuss Communities of Color. Enjoy!

Has anyone read the outstanding series in the New York Times titled ‘1619”?  The Times uses that date to mark when the first slaves were captured by Dutch traders from Spanish slavers, and sold at Jamestown for food and provisions.  It is a fascinating series, documenting the history of our great nation, warts and all, and how we have dealt with people of African descent. Just as important, it gives insights into how our society’s attitudes towards not just them, but other people of color have been codified and ingrained in our society.

This blog post is not here to argue the merits of the case or the counter arguments; my stance has always been that there is no ‘African American” history, there was only an American history which has shaped the world we all live in for better or worse, depending on the color of your skin.  Centuries of slavery, Jim Crow laws, redlining, and other practices designed to maintain the status quo established by slavery and ratified by the early constitution (before the 14th amendment) have created a huge disparity in both wealth and opportunity.  This is the reality people of color, not just African Americans, live in.

Instead, I wanted to discuss the other side of the reality we live in; our workforce shortage.  The current workforce crisis presents a myriad of opportunities for communities of color to participate in the “American Dream”.  I’ve always considered that dream to be having a job that pays enough to buy a home, start a savings account, and look towards accumulating wealth which can be passed down to your children. In industries from Healthcare to Advanced Manufacturing, there are job openings which can help communities of color achieve that dream.  With almost full employment, and the retiring Baby Boomer generation, there are 7.6 million unfilled jobs in the United States, with only 6.5 million job seekers!* Anyone who is not figuring out how to attract, engage, and intentionally bring skilled training opportunities to communities of color are missing the boat; this is a largely untapped resource.

The leadership in our industrial sectors and economic development entities must use strategies which understand and respect the unique cultures which communities of color have developed.  For some of you, this is a challenge. If your first “look’ has always been towards hiring a white male, how do you gain the competencies to engage these communities of color in a meaningful way? Many of the established workforce development programs face the same hurdle; they see communities of color, and only see the barriers that they live with on a daily basis.  The VALL Group sees the potential in these communities, and we are ready to help you realize that potential as well. For more information on how to develop proven programs that work within these communities, you need to contact us at the VALL Group.  

The VALL Group specializes in assisting workforce development boards, WIOA programs and operators, economic development, community based organizations, secondary and post-secondary educational institutions, and private industry in strategic and comprehensive workforce development plans. For more information or to connect with the team, please visit www.thevallgroup.com or email info@thevallgroup.com.

*Sourced from https://www.vox.com/2019/3/18/18270916/labor-shortage-workers-us

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