The digital divide has been especially detrimental to the economic prospects of Latinos

A conversation with Diana Caba, assistant VP for Policy and Community Engagement, Hispanic Federation

In this episode of the Work in Progress podcast, Diana Caba, assistant vice president for policy and community engagement for the Hispanic Federation joins me to discuss the digital skills gap in the Latino community and what is being done to close that gap.

“The dire need for digital skills is a longstanding issue for communities of color in general. And before the pandemic, the digital divide has been especially detrimental to the economic prospects of Latinos of all ages,” says Caba.

“The Latino workforce is growing exponentially,” she adds, “(and) a lot of those workers are lacking critical digital skills to be able to work, to be able to progress in their careers, to be able to increase their financial security.”

Latinos are 14% of today’s workforce and will account for as many as seven out of 10 workers entering the workforce by 2025, but they also currently represent 35% of workers without digital skills and 20% of those with limited digital skills, according to the National Skills Coalition.

This disconnect means that Latino workers without in-demand digital skills will have fewer opportunities to compete for the best-paying jobs.

“This stems from a variety of different issues from K-12 education and access to opportunities. There’s so much to be said in regards to that, but I think that we can all agree that the devastation the pandemic has caused has shed light on these deep-rooted inequities, but has also offered the opportunity to see that digital access is no longer a luxury.”

To address the digital skills gap, a few years ago the Hispanic Federation created the Latino Digital Accelerator initiative, which enhances and expands the digital workforce activities of Latino-led and Latino-serving nonprofit organizations across the nation.

“The intention of the Digital Accelerator is to be able to support Latino-serving organizations that are doing the work, that are in the community with the resources and expertise for them to grow their digital skilling initiatives, that in turn will prepare Latinos for the workforce of today and tomorrow, and the idea of creating a coalition of organizations working in this area to then further inform other groups that want to do this in their communities,” Caba explains on the podcast.

The Hispanic Federation is currently working with 24 community-based organizations (CBOs) in 10 states and in Puerto Rico. “We have provided them with seed funding to either start a digital skilling program or enhance their digital skilling programs that they currently have, again, through the workforce training work that they do.

“In additional to the capital, we have developed a basic digital skilling and job preparedness curriculum, which was created also with input from the CBOs that we’re working with and also additional research and also combining that with free tools that can be incorporated. It’s part of our essential services that we provide to the organizations that we provide capacity building for.”

As Caba explains, “We are very fortunate to receive the support of Google.org and also continue to work with other entities interested in digital skilling for Latinos. The long-term vision for the Digital Accelerator, of course, is to establish a pipeline that leads to well-paying jobs.”

“The future belongs to those who are connected.”

You can learn more about the Digital Accelerator and the work the Hispanic Federation is doing to close the digital skills gap by downloading the podcast here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Download the transcript for this podcast here.

Episode 198: Diana Caba, Hispanic Federation, Assistant VP for Policy and Community Engagement
Host and Executive Producer: Ramona Schindelheim, editor-in-chief, WorkingNation
Producer: Larry Buhl
Executive Producers: Joan Lynch, Melissa Panzer
Music: Composed by Lee Rosevere and licensed under CC by 4.0.

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