DALLAS, March 9 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — SER-Jobs for Progress National, Inc. is receiving a grant valued at $500,000 for new innovative technology from IBM that will enable participants to gain English literacy skills, improve communication, and help people with disabilities become more competitive in the workplace.
The grant will benefit SER centers that help primarily Hispanics to learn the necessary skills to participate in today’s economy, which has the highest unemployment rate in 16 years at 7.6 percent. Hispanics have accounted for more than half of the population growth in the United States in the last 10 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for Hispanics is now at 9.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lack of fluency in English is one of many reasons holding Hispanics back.
“These innovative technologies will allow us to provide our participants with the skills most needed to succeed in today’s extremely competitive workplace,” said Ignacio Salazar, president of SER-Jobs for Progress. “Thanks to IBM, we will continue to keep in step with these changes and offer our clients the training they will need to be successful in the marketplace. We need to prepare workers for the jobs that are most in demand such as those in technology-based areas, green industries, and medical services.”
The new IBM technologies will enable SER to offer state-of-the-art job training programs and include:
— Traducelo Ahora! (Translate Now) software to instantaneously translate any web page in English into Spanish and translates emails bidirectionally (from English to Spanish and vice versa). All online forms for insurance, jobs, and education also can be translated. This helps Spanish-speaking people to communicate more easily with English-speaking people and supports English learning skills which are essential for gaining employment.
— Reading Companion uses voice recognition technology via the Web to help new Spanish speaking residents learn to read English and corrects them discreetly through headphones. The virtual library contains relevant books on topics such as applying for driver’s licenses and seeking U.S. citizenship, for example.
— Accessibility Works sets SER’s Senior Community Service Employment Programs ahead of the rest because it helps seniors to reformat Web pages based on their own unique personal preferences, making them easier to read and navigate such as steadying the mouse to help shaky hands and enlarging and clarifying type so that weaker eyes can still read.
IBM has donated approximately $15 million to SER since it began its relationship with the organization in the 1960s. IBM has provided more support in terms of products and services to SER than any other U.S. corporation, Salazar said.
“It’s vital that we engage this growing population and provide the skills and job training needed so that they can gain access to high growth jobs, especially in areas such as IT, broadband Internet access, and healthcare,” said Bruce Church, IBM’s Senior Location Executive for Dallas. “We are pleased to partner with SER to address the needs of this community that can play an important role in America’s competitiveness.”
SER offers services to more than 1 million clients in over 30 of our centers that operate in over 180 cities across the country. Training covers a broad base of skills that allow Hispanics to be better prepared to meet the labor needs of their communities. It is one of the most important national organizations that offer job training to the growing Hispanic community in the United Sates.
“Thanks to the participation of representatives from major U.S. corporations on its board of directors, SER is not just keeping pace with job market trends-it is a leader in providing innovative solutions to match future workforce needs,” Salazar said.
“Knowing where major corporations are headed is important because it puts us on the front end of the information stream and allows us to better prepare people to fill those needs,” he said. “If you don’t have a dialogue with the country’s major employers about the future, how do you prepare the workforce they will need?”
“SER is entering a period of expansion to meet the job training and retraining needs of Hispanics in new markets where the Latino population has grown but where services are not yet available or do not meet the high demand,” Salazar said.
“We continue to grow and reach out to different areas,” he said. “We want to make sure there are viable solutions and opportunities for the future. We will be taking affiliates in new directions and meeting with corporations to prepare for the future so we can expand the depth and breath of what we do to reach more of our growing base of clients. There are over a million Hispanics born each year, so we need to grow, develop and expand to meet their future needs.”
SOURCE SER-Jobs for Progress National, Inc.