As in all states, Wisconsin employers are always searching for an adequate number of employees with the proper skill set to fill job openings. After analyzing the labor force and economy, the State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development predicts how many new employees will be needed in different job sectors in the future. These are sometimes called “Hot Jobs.”
Health care and finance are two sectors where there are openings in the labor market. Centro Hispano of Dane County offers language-supported training in health care services and finance to Latinos in the greater Madison area. To participate in Caminos, or “career pathways,” you must be at least 18 years old and authorized to work in the U.S. Caminos is a three-way partnership between Centro Hispano, Madison College and employers.
Immigrants come to Wisconsin from all over the world for different reasons and bring with them a wide range of education and experiences. Today, over 280,000 of Wisconsin’s 5.84 million residents are immigrants. They have come here from more than 113 different countries and are employed in many job sectors in the state.
Nearly 3 out of 10 adult immigrants who have settled in Wisconsin have a college degree or more, a proportion similar to that of native-born Wisconsinites. On the other hand, immigrants are more likely than the U.S. born population to have less than a high school diploma (25% vs 7%).
In total, immigrants account for about 6% of the labor force in Wisconsin. They often work in jobs where there is a growing need for workers, including in manufacturing and agriculture. As of 2015, 7.2% of the manufacturing workforce and 11.2% of ‘Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting’ workforce was immigrants.
Many immigrants begin learning English after they move to the United States. This has been the case since the earliest immigrant arrivals to the country. A unique aspect of Wisconsin’s cultural history has been the maintenance of native language among its immigrant communities.
For example, Germans were the largest immigrant group to settle in Wisconsin in the early years of statehood. In 1910, a quarter of Wisconsin’s population reported being able to speak only German. Many had been living in Wisconsin for over a decade but still spoke little English. In some German-speaking communities in the state, the third and fourth generations born here continued to learn German as their first language at home.
Today’s Latino immigrants are learning English more quickly than past generations of new arrivals. Many Latin0 immigrant families speak English in the home and therefore children are often less likely to learn their parents’ native language. While many of the U.S.-born children of Latino immigrants may be bilingual in Spanish and English, by the third generation, Spanish may be lost entirely.
Language is not only a means of communication. A shared language is part of maintaining culture, traditions, and identity. The loss of a community’s heritage language can have negative repercussions for the community as a whole.