Why Mentoring Hispanic Youth Today Is Critical For The Talent Pipelines Of Tomorrow


Posted November 19, 2021 by Mark Perna

More than half the workforce will be Hispanic in less than ten years. Here’s why and how companies should invest in meaningful mentorships for this often underserved talent pool. Mark’s article, “Why Mentoring Hispanic Youth Today Is Critical For The Talent Pipelines Of Tomorrow,” published at Forbes.com on October 15, 2021.

In less than a decade, America’s workforce will have a new face. By 2030, Hispanic youth and other youth of color will make up more than half of the nation’s labor force.

Without increased investment in this rapidly expanding Hispanic population, corporations will not be primed to be competitive or successful in a dynamic labor market. As we close 2021’s Hispanic Heritage Month, it may be time to take a hard look at where your company’s future talent is going to come from—and what role you should take in building a strong mentorship program for Hispanic youth.

The State of the Workforce

Despite making up about 17% of the U.S. workforce, Hispanic Americans currently hold just 4% of executive roles and 6.5% of STEM-related roles in the United States. Pew Research Center found that more than half of all Hispanics in the U.S. currently work in the retail, hospitality, food, construction or service industries—all fields that typically do not require a professional degree or internship experience.

Solving these disparities is best done before they expand further—by making a commitment to invest in Hispanic youth now, before they’re even ready to enter the labor market.

 A Solutions-Based Approach

I’ve written before about First Workings, a nonprofit that helps high schoolers in New York City and London from underrepresented or underserved communities to achieve upward social-economic mobility. The organization also connects students with mentorship opportunities, paid internships and professional development training. The goal of First Workings is to help its beneficiaries—a large percentage of whom identify as Hispanic or Latinx—to overcome cultural barriers that often inhibit career mobility.

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Most critically, the organization helps Hispanic youth develop social capital, those priceless professional connections that can be leveraged to get high-level employment opportunities.

The partnership between student and corporation is mutually beneficial. Youth are exposed to new industries, corporations and people to build a network of connections. On the other end, major companies who partner with First Workings to offer internships and mentorships, including Lazard, Morgan Stanley, Mintz and others, increase their pipelines of diverse talent.

Mentorship Matters

One of First Workings’ current mentees is Silvia Bravo, a rising high school senior in New York City. She said this program is very practically helping her build a potential career by fostering her passion for architecture and offering an “in” to the industry.

“Both of my parents are from Mexico, and I come from a low-income family,” Bravo says, “I’ve always been fascinated by my dad’s job as a construction worker, and I dream of turning my interest in buildings into a career in architecture.”

After getting to know Bravo and her career strengths, First Workings strategically placed her with a Latina mentor at RAND Engineering & Architecture.

Her mentor, Yolany Heredia, is Puerto Rican and Honduran. Now a Project Associate at the architecture firm, she wishes she had had Latina women to look up to in the architecture sector during her childhood.

“It is so important to build a strong voice and teach leadership within the Latina community,” Heredia says. “There is strength in numbers. It feels so relatable when I find other Latinas in my organization, as we all understand the frustrations, excitement and impact of Latinx culture in America.

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“It is this spirit of sharing that I try to bring to First Workings and my time with Silvia.”

The Business Case

While intentional mentorship of Hispanic youth is an investment in their future, there’s a strong business case to be made as well. Amplifying underrepresented voices in the corporate world through meaningful mentorships and internships benefits employees and employers alike.

“We know that a company is stronger when it possesses a wide range of perspectives, from entry-level to the C-suite,” says Kevin Davis, founder and chairman of First Workings. “The change in our country’s demographics has made investing in Hispanic youth an essential strategy if leaders hope to remain competitive.”

Since the organization’s inception in 2015, over 300 students have been provided with paid internships (or mentorships during the Covid-19 pandemic) in their industries of interest, helping them build social capital and career-readiness skills. The program also provides program participants with transportation and lunch stipends, erasing the financial barriers that often prevent underserved students from pursuing internships—and ultimately, landing breakout opportunities.

With a fast-growing Hispanic population in the U.S., corporations across the nation would be well advised to adopt similar internship and mentorship models. Not only is it the ethical and equitable thing to do, it’s also a powerful strategy to create a robust talent pipeline, both now and into the future.

Read at Forbes.com

Filed Under:

Forbes.com Articles, Press

About The Author
Mark Perna
Mark C. Perna is an international speaker and bestselling author. He also serves as CEO of TFS Results, a strategic consulting firm at the forefront of the national paradigm shift in education and workforce development.
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