Think back to your childhood and remember what it was like learning to type. Remember the computer class room, full of desktop computers and learning the Herzog System of typing. How critical that was for future job prospects. Now imagine your children’s computer lab, what will that look like? Given recent technologic gains, desk top computers will most likely be a thing of the past giving way to computers with touch screens and all new ways of “typing.” These changes in how the next generations of Hispanic workers are educated in new technologies will have profound impacts on our future labor market.
Think of how many millions use mobile phones in the US. Now think how many jobs are created by that industry. Hispanics already over index in mobile media usage, finding ways to harness this interaction for educational purposes could pay greater dividends for the countries future bottom line.
A new report by Recon analytics shows that the wireless industry supports 3.8 million jobs and added $195.5 billion to the country’s GDP in 2011. A recent NDN study corroborates these findings showing that the investments and innovation entailed in the transition from 2G to 3G wireless technologies and Internet infrastructure spurred the creation of some 1,585,000 new jobs from April 2007 to June 2011.
Many of those workers in the wireless technology industry were Latino and in the future they’ll be even more. In 2011 there were nearly 23 million, Hispanic workers in the United States. This group made up 15 percent of the U.S. labor force. By 2020, Hispanics are expected to comprise 19 percent of the U.S. labor force. With Hispanic’s comprising such a large segment of our next generation’s labor force a greater investment in creating more educational opportunities for this group in new mobile technologies could create great economic dividends in the future.
Jason Llorenz, Executive Director of The Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership puts it this way: “The middle class jobs of the future are in the technology sector, or industries that are technology-enabled. Getting technology into the hands of all students, and integrating digital tools across learning and pedagogy are key challenges for all education stakeholders at every level.”
National organizations are already beginning to take notice on this, the Aspire program for example, is designed to encourage high school success and college/career readiness for students at-risk of dropping out of high by integrating greater access to technologies in classrooms. This includes developing and marketing new interactive learning tools which better engage today’s students. Increasing access to underserved communities will be key in ensuring that our future labor markets are able to tackle the jobs of the future.
The University of Southern California recently released a study which shows that that the utilization of an App for an IPad, IPhone, and IPod called Motion Math actually improved children’s fractions test scores on average over 15 percent. The study shows that the successful integration of entertainment value and educational value can enhance educational attainment. What’s more foundations like the Bill and Melinda gates have increased funding to create more charter schools which will harness “the appeal of games, mechanical and electrical tinkering, and film and media creation to engage underrepresented urban youth in STEM fields.”
Llorenz for one thinks this is already happening: “Digital tools are the future of educational opportunity, addressing health disparities, and connecting to economic opportunity. We have to make these tools ubiquitous and accessible to everyone, especially the underserved.” At this point only the future knows for sure, but wouldn’t it be cool if our children’s computer lab would be comprised of touch screen devices?
Kristian Ramos is the Policy Director of the 21st Century Border Initiative at NDN and The New Policy Institute.