Scarcity of workers creates demand for immigrant labor |

Scarcity of workers creates demand for immigrant labor

Donna Gray

With unemployment in the area at 3.2 percent through August of this year, one of the lowest in Colorado, it’s hard to find employees, said Marianne Virgili, executive director of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.The majority of jobs in the area are service-oriented, Virgili said, with lower pay rates than professional positions. Virgili agreed with Gould that many employers rely on the Latino workforce to fill their jobs.”I don’t see how the valley could survive without Latinos,” Virgili said. “I think we all realize that. We still have low unemployment rate even with infusion of Latinos in the last few years.” According to a June report from the Pew Latino Center, unauthorized immigrants are filling service and construction jobs across the U.S. Nationwide, 18 percent of the workers in the leisure and hospitality industry are unauthorized migrants, and they represent 17 percent of the construction industry.The reason for that is two-fold, the report said. Those two industries aren’t always as stringent in requiring credentials, and neither ask for much in the way of education. Overall, Virgili said Latino workers have been embraced by the business community.”The added flavor to the community has been an overall good thing,” she said. “It’s very different than a large city. A small town embraces that culture differently. I hear from (chamber) members that Latino workers are so appreciative of living in this country.”Recently, she’s heard that more businesses are trying to reach out to workers as well as potential customers by learning Spanish. Colorado Mountain College, with campuses across the Western Slope, has tailored English as a Second Language classes – also known as survival English -for employees. It has offered “Survival Spanish for Transit (bus) Drivers,” and survival Spanish classes for its own staff to better help students enroll in classes.”We’ve seen an embracing of the Latino workforce. I haven’t heard anything negative,” she said.Vail, Colorado

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