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October 5, 2004 8:13 AM CDT

Department of Labor Announces English Proficiency Study

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U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced $600,000 for a study of the level of English proficiency that various employers require of their Hispanic workforce. The study, the fourth activity funded under the National Hispanic Worker Initiative, will be conducted by HMA Associates Inc. in partnership with the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce.

"This administration wants to help Hispanic workers succeed in the workforce," says Chao. "One of the most valuable work skills is knowing how to speak the language. This survey will help the Department hone in on what we need to do to help Hispanic workers more."

The U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce Cultural and Education Foundation will identify survey sites, representing communities with large numbers of Hispanics or major Spanish-speaking population growth over the last decade. The sites will also include a diverse number of high-growth industries, as identified by the President's High Growth Job Training Initiative, which includes construction.

The study will engage employer members of the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce to determine the level of English proficiency expected by local employers; how the level of English proficiency required varies with the type of work performed; methods used by employers to assess applicant proficiency; and services or programs employers use to help workers improve workplace communication.

"This administration is committed to ensuring that workers with limited English proficiency have opportunities to increase their language skills," says Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Emily Stover DeRocco. "Hispanic Americans are an increasingly vital part of our workforce. Learning more about the employment barriers they face will help the public employment and training system better prepare them for careers in industries that need good workers now and into the future."

The National Hispanic Worker Initiative is part of a larger effort to link the resources of the $15 billion public workforce investment system to jobs in demand. Currently, the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration has identified 12 high-growth industries ? construction, automotive, advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, energy, financial services, geospatial, health care, hospitality, information technology (IT), retail and transportation ? and is funding unique, industry-driven demonstration projects through the President's High Growth Job Training Initiative. These include Hispanic workers in their overall service strategy.

For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Labor web site at www.dol.gov.


About the Author

Masonry, the official publication of the Mason Contractors Association of America, covers every aspect of the mason contractor profession - equipment and techniques, building codes and standards, business planning, promoting your business, legal issues and more. Read or subscribe to Masonry magazine at www.masonrymagazine.com.

 

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