Future workforce should receive bilingual training
Feb 21, 2013 | 1172 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s clear that many people in this community are passionate when it comes to the topic of bilingualism, as evidenced by the stockpile of letters to the editor sent to the Irrigator within the past two weeks.

After one local resident expressed frustration that she did not land a job at a local dental office because she did not know Spanish, though she saw employees working at a local store who did not know English (“No, I don’t speak Spanish,” Your Voice, Page 11, Feb. 7), many residents chimed in with responses.

Some folks were sympathetic; others were critical. Regardless of one’s opinion, it’s clear that knowledge of both English and Spanish has become a desirable job skill here in the Central Valley, and educators and vocational training leaders should take notice.

Local residents need to be prepared for the careers that are locally available.

As an agricultural community that has attracted field workers from Latin America over the years and whose descendents have grown up here, Patterson has come to have a majority Latino population. Businesses naturally want to cater to the city’s Spanish-speaking population.

By the same token, Spanish speakers need to become educated in English to expand their career opportunities and to become fully engaged in civic life.

Just as Modesto Junior College and Alliance Worknet recently announced plans to host free courses in logistics training, it would be wonderful to see similar courses available in Spanish or English.

Obviously, languages can’t be learned in a two-week crash course, but economic development advocates need to treat bilingualism as a valued asset in the business world and not simply relegate it to the liberal arts.

In that vein, it’s encouraging to see dual-language programs in place at Walnut Grove School and Grayson Charter School. Students in those programs will all have a leg up on their peers when they search for a job.

As California’s demographics continue to shift, educators in both the public school system and the business community need to change with it. Economic development proponents would do well to get in on the trend of bilingual training for the sake of our community’s prosperity.
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