Hispanic employment levels are rising, as evidenced by September’s six-year unemployment low. But the job growth is primarily due to Latinos gaining jobs in non-professional service industries like construction and hospitality, according to a new report highlighting diversity in America’s workplace.

More jobs in non-professional service industries, while important, usually offer lower wages for Hispanics and, according to the report, it emphasizes the need for professional and business firms to bolster their Hispanic diversity.

October’s Diversity Jobs Report by the Professional Diversity Network recognizes a big part of the wage inequality is due to the education gap within the Latino community. According to the Pew Research Center, Hispanics accounted for just 9 percent of young adults (ages 25 to 29) with bachelor’s degrees.

“Due to the small percentage of Hispanics with bachelor’s and advance-level degrees, employers must identify news ways to fill the talent pipeline,” the report says. “Employers cite the greatest challenge to recruiting this workforce segment is a ‘lack of specific skillsets needed for our business. Undoubtedly, corporate America is experiencing a war for top Hispanic talent.’”

Still, the report emphasized the education gap is no excuse for firms lacking Hispanic talent. After all, college enrollment among Hispanics ages 18 to 24 increased 240 percent from 1996 to 2012 – far outpacing blacks and whites.

The report outlined a step by step plan to help firms bolster Hispanics in corporate America, including:

• Identify a trusted advisor to coordinate and advise senior managers on matters specific to Hispanic programs.

• Place existing Hispanic executives front and center. It will establish a sense of pride and serve as a “real” recruiting case study.

• Expand local searches to target national candidates. Many Hispanic professionals will relocate for a promising job opportunity.

• Support causes of importance to the Hispanic community via partnerships with credible Hispanic organizations. For a list visit, ihispano.com/partners.

• Provide networking opportunities (events, online, etc.) that offer access to hiring managers.

“Communicating that Hispanic employees are valued is a critical first step, but no diversity and inclusion effort can operate in a vacuum,” the report said. “To be sustainable, it must be championed by senior management, aligned with the organization’s mission, actionable and appropriately funded. In turn, employers can more effectively identify, hire and retain this growing group of Americans and ultimately thrive.”

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