Preparing the Next Generation to be Pandemic Proof

Posted on 03/10/2021 @ 02:40 PM

Tags: LGBTQ, Health, Coronavirus, Empowerment

As 2020 closed out, it gave a parting shot to some of our most vulnerable populations: 82,000 Black women and 31,000 Latinx women lost their jobs in December, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Women of color, who depend on careers in the leisure and hospitality industries, saw their places of work temporarily or permanently close. For some households, these women were the sole breadwinner — multiplying the pain of this job loss.

While a new Presidential administration and Congress work to provide relief to families, many of our Latinx families will continue to suffer because of their citizenship status, which prevents them from qualifying for relief programs.

In the District of Columbia, the League of the United Latin American Citizens, (also known as LULAC —the oldest and largest Latinx civil rights organization) has volunteered with a food distribution program at the Capital Area Food Bank to help families like those mentioned above. We also donated to a food pantry that benefits Latinx immigrants in the DC area — the Latin American Youth Center. Hunger is an ever-growing threat to our community. Even though Latinx folks make up 11 percent of the population in the District of Columbia, we are nearly 38 percent of the Capital Area Food Bank’s clientele, according to its Hunger Report 2020.

In order to fight hunger and poverty, our approach is to get at the root of the problem, which is the lack of education. Our LULAC members understand that education is the great equalizer. Aside from raising funds for academic scholarships that benefit low-income Latinx students, we also participate as mentors for afterschool programs.

In the last three years, I have met with Latinx high school students on a regular basis to talk about social justice issues, Latinx history, civic engagement, and their future (with a heavy emphasis on college and careers). I bring Latinx professionals who share their journeys on how they made it in the real world with hopes that these teenagers will be able to see themselves in these guest speakers.

Two career paths my mentorship keeps pushing are jobs in science and medicine. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers are severely lacking Latinx individuals.

Additionally, as the previous labor report indicated, STEM careers are pandemic proof. In December 2020, the job growth for computer systems design and related services increased by 20,000 jobs, professional and technical services by 11,000 jobs, and business support services by 7,000 jobs. Furthermore, the health care sector added 39,000 jobs, along with employment growth in hospitals (32,000 jobs, and ambulatory health care services 21,000).

I cannot stress the importance of lighting a fuse among our Latinx youth to start thinking strategically when choosing a career path. Not everyone has to become a doctor, but you can become a medical assistant or support staff that will ensure you will be employed for the next 40 years.

Our world is forever changed because of COVID-19. The pandemic uncovered a secret held by management: it is possible to office at home 100% of the time. We are going to need the Class of 2021 to take on tech savvy jobs that will ensure that the Boomers and Gen Xers can connect successfully at home over the next decade.

I have shared this news with my DC students, but now I’m taking it across the nation. LULAC councils in the District of Columbia have collaborated with the National LULAC Office’s Project Rise, Toyota and Pepsi to sponsor Professional Skills Workshops this spring aimed at Latinx teens and young adults. These free sessions on Zoom will provide lessons on career exploration, job interviewing, and goal setting.

We’ve hired Latinx trainers who are mentors and career development professionals to lead these important discussions. I’ll be moderating these Zoom chats and cheering these students on.

“Career Exploration,” is scheduled for Saturday, March 20, from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m., EST. The session will focus on identifying occupations of interest and learning which fields will be in demand in years to come. Lisa Guadalupe Clarke, founder of ATL Search Group, will present. Clarke will also focus on comparing educational options to find the right training program, college or university.

“A Guide to Personal Development,” is scheduled for Saturday, April 3, from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. EST. The session will focus on goal setting, life skills, time management and communication. Miguel Palomares, author of “The Latino Dream: How I got into an Ivy League and Escaped Poverty,” will present. Palomares will also touch on conflict resolution, self-esteem and family support.

Those of you interested can fill out a Google form to register by clicking here: bit.ly/3uy0d0K

I truly believe that we can honor those hardworking mothers who lost their jobs in December by lifting their children and helping youth and young adults access jobs that will help them avoid a similar fate as their mothers.

Share the workshop link above with a Latinx youth or young adult in your community who will be joining the workforce soon. And also share it with a mother who needs to refresh her resume and cover letter. LULAC is here to help.

Jesse Garcia is the State Director of LULAC District of Columbia. He also hosts a weekly podcast, www.jessegarciashow.com, featuring leaders in the Latinx and LGBTQ movements, available on iTunes, Spotify and Soundcloud. Follow him @jessegarciashow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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