Title

The new Spanish-speaking workforce : employers' experiences in Memphis

Publication Date

1-1-2002

Degree Name

MA in International and Intercultural Management

First Advisor

Linda Gobbo

Abstract

The purpose of this research is to better understand the processes whereby new Spanish-speaking residents in Memphis, Tennessee are being incorporated into the local labor force, and the challenges that employers confront as they hire Spanish-speaking workers. This study asks, "What challenges do Memphis employers confront as they hire Spanish-speaking workers?" This research project is composed of data collected from a telephone survey that asked 264 Memphis area businesses about their experiences and/or needs and challenges in employing Latino men and women as part of their hourly workforce. This study presents a descriptive summary of 174 employers' responses to the survey. Focus on this research was on nonprofessional, hourly workers. The study was completed in a joint partnership with the University of Memphis' Center for Research on Women (CROW). The primary challenge employers reported involved language and communication issues in a variety of contexts: new employee orientation; on-the-job training, supervision; and communication among workers. Employers without Latinos in their workforce anticipated the same major language-related challenges, were they to hire Latinos, as those challenges by companies with Latino workers. Language-related workforce development programs are clearly needed if employers in the Memphis area are to incorporate Spanish-speaking workers into their labor forces. Based on the survey results, programs and services in four broad areas would be beneficial: (1) access to Latino workers; (2) language training (both Spanish and English); (3) translation and interpretation; (4) specialized training and consultation with managers regarding language-related human resource and workforce development needs.

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