As the Portland-metro area becomes more and more diverse, it will be increasingly necessary to identify and address barriers to job access for a changing population. More people in diverse communities, including English Language Learners (ELL), need access to good paying jobs and employers need more options to recruit a range of talent locally, bringing globally competitive advantages to their businesses.
In 2014, Partners in Diversity and the Portland Business Alliance joined forces to create the Workforce Diversity Project (WDP) - a three-year grant-funded endeavor that sought to understand how qualified, diverse workers could better connect to businesses that need a strong labor supply for manufacturing, healthcare and other skilled trades jobs - jobs that pay a living wage.
Summary of FindingsThe results of this project reveal unique insight on how Portland-metro area employers can more successfully diversify their workforce and gain a competitive advantage with multicultural talent that exists in this community and better reflects a changing global customer base.
Some of the key findings show that:
- Traditional methods of recruiting talent do not work when reaching communities of color or English Language Learners. Members of those communities do not know where to look for jobs even though there are many workforce development organizations in the Portland area. Recruiters must increase their community involvement in order to have success.
- Immigrants and refugees to the United States who have advanced degrees from foreign universities need stronger pathways to find work in their fields. Many are working in unskilled, low-wage jobs when their education and experience could be better leveraged as a competitive advantage for businesses.
- Language barriers during the recruiting stage and throughout employment need to be addressed. Workers who can communicate easily with recruiters, coworkers and supervisors can better understand job expectations and contribute to a company’s culture.