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Over the last several months, much has been written about essential workers, which includes those in the construction industry. The build environment requires workers to be on jobsites daily while also risking exposure to COVID-19. Since the onset of the pandemic, construction workers have had to work quickly and nimbly to adjust to the new realities of a COVID-19 world. 

With COVID-19 disproportionately affecting Hispanic communities, it is important to highlight the role the Hispanic community plays in the construction industry and the impact they have on the future of cities. In California, nearly one-third of construction workers are Hispanic.

In more than 30 years, Hispanic representation has grown across all levels and expertise in the construction industry, but there is even more to be done. Here are a few key strategies to continue to celebrate the Hispanic workers already in the industry and to build more representation in the years to come.

Youth outreach and education

For many business leaders, learning about construction and the opportunities it affords as kids or young adults is key. Talking about construction and seeing it firsthand with family, friends or mentors can help to foster long-time careers in the field. 

That’s why partnerships with local K-12 schools, particularly those with strong minority representation, are critical. Getting construction in front of boys and girls at a young age can go a long way in engaging them in future careers and generating excitement about the industry from early on. In the Los Angeles Unified School District alone, 74% of students are Latino, creating ample opportunity to connect with the Hispanic community.

While outreach and education efforts can take many forms, firms can consider organizing field trips that offer a behind-the-scenes look at construction projects and new buildings, opening up young students’ eyes to the wide range of opportunities in the field. In addition to field trips, companies can offer collaborative activities related to construction, such as drawing and design, to provide different perspectives of the industry.

Construction is a vast industry with roles spanning from engineering and design to general contracting and more—but many people outside of the industry do not understand the differences or know how each job contributes to the final product. For the keepers of industry knowledge, it is their role to teach young men and women about the many career paths they can take.

Professional outreach and engagement

At the college and professional levels, representation is key and there are many actions companies can take to continue to build diversity and contribute to successful careers for current or prospective Hispanic employees. 

For instance, having more Hispanic employees attend recruiting events for aspiring builders can help to attract more of the community to the industry and build a more diverse workforce for companies. Inviting more Hispanic employees to speak on panels and participate in community events is also critical to empowering their voices, offering diverse viewpoints and continuing to build a bridge to an industry that welcomes everyone.

Another tactic companies can take is developing mentorship programs that match senior leaders with entry- to mid-level employees that enable new learning opportunities and a platform to build strong relationships that can further aspire careers in the industry.

When people think about construction, they often think about the end result—the beautiful buildings, bridges and roads that they see and use every day. What is sometimes missed, however, is the people who have spent countless hours building these structures from the ground up. Through education, engagement, and thoughtful investment that promotes diversity, leaders in the construction industry can connect with the Hispanic community to bring them on board, celebrate their hard work and provide fulfilling careers in construction.

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