Joe’s Journal: Opportunity Out of Change

Now as to what the work of the social ecologist is: First of all, it means looking at society and community by asking these questions: What changes have already happened that do not fit what everybody knows”?; What are the “paradigm changes?; Is there any evidence that this is a change and not a fad? And, finally, one then asks: If this change is relevant and meaningful, what opportunities does it offer?Peter F. Drucker 

In my most recent book we took a good look at the great shifts that are already taking place in the demographics of the Latino population in this country. There are many areas where these shifts will have a major impact and lead to tremendous opportunities.

[EXPAND More]In education, for example, we are going to have to consider a few things like teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). Because Spanish-speaking immigrants seem to be different from previous waves of immigrants, which pushed more for English fluency, more school resources are spent on things like ESL and getting teachers certified to teach English Language Learners; but those resources are becoming increasingly scarce. One has to wonder if there is a more cost-effective way to reach these students. Perhaps we could look to some sort of technology or outsourcing to organizations that are expert at foreign language learning. We also see that statistically, Hispanic students tend to go into the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics less often than students from other groups. This tendency is going to have a serious impact on the workforce in those fields. We do see that more colleges and universities are addressing the issue and finding better ways to reach Latino students.

There’s also going to be tremendous opportunity in the healthcare industry for attending to the unique needs of the growing Hispanic population. The increased probability for adult onset diabetes, for instance, will create new markets for both food companies and pharmaceutical makers as they try to find ways to alleviate the impact of this problem.

Government will also have opportunities to address issues that are important to this community. Evidence suggests that Latino voters strongly oppose immigration laws that seem punitive rather than measures which address the fact that there are so many undocumented Latino residents here. Lawmakers will have to understand that perspective as they try to draft legislation.

As we look at all these changes, we must be mindful to consider how they will shake out in the future as more immigrants become acculturated. The demographics indicating growth in the Latino population are certain. What is not certain is how the subsequent generations will behave and whether the opportunities that arise will carry on past the first and second generations.

— Joe Maciariello[/EXPAND]