Oct 7, 2009
Latinos are “vastly under-engaged in technology careers,” especially in Illinois — and that could hurt the state’s potential for economic recovery and growth.
That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Latino Technology Alliance, a new organization formed to bridge the gap in technology employment and entrepreneurship.
While accounting for 15 percent of Illinois’ population, Latinos comprise less than 5 percent of its technology workforce, according to the report, which notes that earnings in science and technology are generally far higher than in other fields.
LTA was founded in 2002 as the Latino Technology Association, a membership association, but found the number of Latino business professionals seeking high-tech careers was declining, said Queta Rodriguez Bauer. Last year the group reorganized as a social service agency to promote education, job-creation and entrepreneurship.
A big part of the problem is education. Lower educational attainment by Latino students limits their access to technology careers, according to the study, and schools in low-income areas have less access to computers and technology and are less likely to use computers for instructional purposes. In addition, Latino parents often have language barriers and less experience with higher education.
The report proposes a variety of programs for students, as well as career fairs, networking gatherings, and a data base of high-tech product and service providers in the Latino community, to promote business opportunities.
Latinos could give the Illinois economy a competitive edge in global and domestic technology and service markets where bilingual skills and cultural competencies are advantages, Bauer said — but as a growing portion of the state’s population, they could also hold the economy back if their potential isn’t fully developed, she added.