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

Publication Date


Degree Name

MA in International and Intercultural Management

First Advisor

Linda Gobbo


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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