Upskilling and access to capital identified as key priorities for Latino business owners and workforce in the aftermath of the pandemic
Contact: Jon Purves
Senior Media Relations Manager
The Aspen Institute
Washington, DC, May 13, 2021–– The Aspen Institute Latinos & Society Program (AILAS) today issued a new report, Latino Inclusion in the Digital Economy, with the support of Google.org and UPS. The white paper identifies strategies for building the Latino workforce’s capacity to fully participate in the digital economy. The launch marks the first of a series of projects led by AILAS throughout 2021 to strengthen the business ecosystem that supports the Latino workforce. Leaders from across business, government, nonprofit, labor union, education and philanthropic sectors contributed to the findings shared in the report.
“From 2010 to 2017, Latinos accounted for 82% of the growth in U.S. labor-force; the future success of the U.S. economy is set to become ever-more reliant on the Latino workforce and Latino entrepreneurship,” said Domenika Lynch, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Latinos & Society Program. “Yet COVID-19 has hit these workers hard, and there is a real risk that recovery will be hindered by a lack of digital skills. That’s why it’s critical that we plan for the job requirements of the future now, and this white paper marks the first step in our commitment to securing Latino access to opportunity.”
The report highlights that Latinos will be critical to U.S. post-pandemic recovery and that a targeted intervention is necessary, as they currently comprise 17.6% of the nation’s workforce and are set to become 28% of the population by 2060. Prior to the pandemic, Latino-owned employer businesses provided jobs to approximately 3 million American workers. However, COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted businesses in sectors with higher rates of Latino ownership, while only 16% of the Latino workforce had the option to work from home during the pandemic with unemployment levels significantly higher than the white workforce. A National Skills Coalition study found that Latino workers account for 35% of workers with no digital skills, and 20% of those with limited skills.
The report’s key recommendations focus on what a coalition of policymakers, training programs, businesses, and capital access providers can do as part of a coordinated effort. Among the findings:
- Upskilling the Latino workforce must be a priority for the business ecosystem, as digital literacy rapidly becomes essential for business owners and employees, and automation eliminates some jobs while creating new tech-dependent roles.
- Policymakers can help Latino business owners access capital by expanding access to PPP funding, refining PPP terms to direct funds where they are needed most, and expanding incentives for lenders to issue loans to micro-businesses.
- Workforce training programs created in partnership with Latino organizations can connect with the Latino community through culturally competent curriculum development while ensuring digital skills are fully integrated into job readiness training.
- Community colleges can bolster the business ecosystem by partnering with local workforce entities to develop curriculum that prepares students for local labor market demands.
- Businesses can create more opportunities for Latino workers to build their digital savvy on the job and establish hiring practices that are focused on a job candidate’s potential rather than their degree. Apprenticeships and workplace learning programs offer workers an opportunity to gain new skills while maintaining financial stability.
- Capital access providers can work in partnership with entrepreneurial support organizations (ESO’s) and other community partners to ensure Latino businesses access the relief and PPP funds they need to grow and expand their operations as well as training to expand their tech capacity.
The report offers detailed insight into each of the solutions identified, with the aim to provide a helpful resource for decision makers at the business, community, government, and academic levels.
“Latinos represent nearly 18% of the nation’s workforce and own 14% of all American businesses, yet are disproportionately impacted by job displacements and business closures as a result of the pandemic,” said Hector Mujica, Google.org’s Economic Opportunity Lead. “Through this research, we hope to provide insights on the systemic barriers that keep the Latino community from opportunity, and help charter a post-pandemic economic recovery that is more inclusive and equitable.”
AILAS is committing to acting on the findings of this report, launching its new Latino Business and Entrepreneurship Initiative, which provides local and federal policymakers and other stakeholders with the innovative ideas, best practices, and space for deliberation needed to build a more inclusive post-pandemic economy. AILAS’s research initiative, Latino Inclusion in the Digital Economy, will continue to source solutions and public-private partnerships to upskill Latino workers and entrepreneurs at scale.
The recommendations within the white paper derive from a series of Aspen roundtable discussions on the inclusion of Latinos in the Digital Economy. The report was made possible through the support of Hector Mujica, Head of Economic Opportunity at Google.org and Maria Luisa Boyce, Director for UPS Global Public Affairs.
Latino Inclusion in the Digital Economy is available at https://www.aspeninstitute.org/publications/latino-inclusion-in-the-digital-economy/
The Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Program (AILAS), founded in 2015, provides a non-partisan, unbiased platform for shared learning across communities of influencers on the critical barriers preventing greater Latino achievement, and jointly surfaces new, innovative, and actionable solutions for a more prosperous future for all Americans. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org/latinos-society
The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org
Google.org, Google’s philanthropy, brings the best of Google to help solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges combining funding, innovation, and technical expertise to support underserved communities and provide opportunity for everyone. We engage nonprofits and social enterprises who make a significant impact on the communities they represent, and whose work has the potential to produce meaningful change. We want a better world, faster — and we believe in leveraging technology and applying scalable data-driven innovation to move the needle. For more information, visit http://google.org/.