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December 5, 2003

For immediate release

Hispanic higher education community
embraces workforce development role

December 5, 2003 SAN ANTONIO, Texas – The Hispanic higher education community will host two workforce development conferences next year in Texas and Florida to provide information on workforce best practices and resources to the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. labor force.

In a unique partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) will administer the fifth year of a college and career development initiative targeting America’s largest Hispanic population centers.

HACU represents more than 350 colleges and universities serving the largest concentrations of Hispanic higher education students in the fastest-growing Hispanic communities in 26 states and Puerto Rico.

Two HACU-member campuses, Texas A&M University at Kingsville and the Inter American Campus of Miami-Dade College in Florida, will host two workforce development conferences in March and April 2004, respectively, in partnership with HACU and the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (DOL/ETA).

Since 1999, the HACU*DOL/ETA partnership has sponsored a series of conferences at locations throughout the country enlisting HACU’s membership as frontline leaders in Hispanic higher education and community workforce training initiatives. Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi and Santa Monica College in California sponsored workforce development forums in 2003.

“We applaud the ongoing commitment to this project from our member colleges and universities, which are at the forefront of every substantial effort to bring advanced knowledge and lifelong career advancement tools to our Hispanic communities,” said HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores.

“Certainly, the entire nation has a stake in their efforts. Hispanics already make up one of every three new workers joining the U.S. labor force today. Hispanics will have a profound impact on our country’s future economic strength and security,” Flores said. “HACU applauds the U.S. Department of Labor for its commitment to a successful future for our Hispanic communities and for our country.”

Hispanics make up the country’s youngest and largest ethnic population, but also suffer the lowest high school and college graduation rates of any major population group. Hispanics also suffer disproportionately high poverty rates (exceeding 20 percent), and remain severely under-represented in the highest-paying professions in the fastest-growing fields of work now demanding advanced college degrees.

“In today’s uncertain economy, in which low-wage jobs that do not require a college degree are fast disappearing, this partnership is directly addressing the need to rapidly open new doors to college and higher paying jobs for our Hispanic communities,” said Tony Leiva, HACU’s DOL/ETA Program Manager at HACU national headquarters in San Antonio, Texas. “This partnership is making a real difference.”

The partnership between HACU and DOL/ETA was formed following passage of the national Workforce Investment Act of 1998, which replaced the myriad programs of the old Job Training Partnership Act with a newly centralized approach to combining job training and employment systems that also invited innovative new partnerships.

The country’s Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), which are defined as having a student enrollment that is at least 25 percent Hispanic, were quickly enlisted, often as lead partners in projects targeting multicultural populations and also embracing community organizations and local and state workforce development boards.

Many HACU-member HSIs have become home to one-stop career centers, which post job openings and skills training opportunities for every member of the community. Other HSIs are active partners in outreach that extends beyond their campus borders in initiatives that can range from providing academic and job support for high school dropouts to continuing education for college graduates seeking new career directions.

Several HSIs are working directly with employers. Eastern New Mexico University in Roswell became partners with the state’s aviation sector to provide training designed to meet aviation industry needs. In New York, LaGuardia Community College and New York City Technical College are part of a consortium developing telecommunications industry training programs. In Texas, El Paso Community College is assisting dislocated workers with GED classes and training for computer and manufacturing industry jobs.

Other HSIs are working with “at-risk” students in high school and middle school to prepare early for college degrees and rewarding careers. The University of California at San Diego hosted a youth achievement camp for area youngsters that also invited their parents along on campus tours. The City University of New York is a partner in the Hostos-Lincoln Academy for “at-risk” high school students, which has sent 90 percent of its graduating classes on to college.

For more information about the HACU*DOL/ETA partnership and the upcoming conferences in Texas and Florida, contact Tony Leiva, HACU’s DOL/ETA Program Manager, at (210) 692-3805, ext. 3222. Or visit www.hacu.net.