Spanish as a job requirement in Porterville…thoughts?

This is from a since-deleted facebook thread. A college educated woman in Porterville is frustrated at not getting jobs because she doesn’t speak spanish. This is only part of the thread, but all that survives. the long parts are from me, the quoted parts from her.

I am curious what people’s views are on the issues.

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> It is total bullshit that I can’t get a job because I don’t speak Spanish.

You can’t get any job, or you can’t get some particular job? I think the latter might be true, , but are you saying there are no jobs that you re qualified for without speaking Spanish?

> If I moved to another country I would have to learn the language in order to get a job, not the other way around

that is the point I was making earlier – this is NOT true. I have worked with translators in probably at least 30 languages, I have worked in countries as foreign as Japan personally, and I can assure you there is no requirement anywhere that keeps English-only speakers from working in very good jobs. Maybe not every job, but English is definitely seen as s desirable skill, and accommodations are made for not speaking the local language if you are otherwise qualified for something.

> I may be very liberal when it comes to people’s rights, etc., but this is one thing that irritates the crap out of me.

I can see it irritates you. I have heard it from plenty of people before. My point is, what evidence is there that, for example, Spanish speaking immigrants don’t learn English and assimilate at the same, if not faster rates than prior generations of immigrants, or other current immigrants of other ethnicities?

I have almost always dated in immigrant families of various ethnicities, including currently, and my observation in those communities is that this pattern across generations pretty much repeats itself every time.

So I know people are irritated upon finding that jobs require Spanish, usually because the business wants to serve Spanish speaking customers better. But should the businesses be prohibited from identifying and serving whoever it wants to serve best? Did your great-grandparents or mine, despite making some efforts to learn English as a late stage in life, still live in mostly ethnic enclaves, and prefer to do business with those who spoke their mother tongue? I suspect they did, on the basis of what I see and have seen from other immigrants in communities that arrive at the same age with limited or no English experience before arrival.

I know none of this changes the results of the job application at a time when you have bills to pay. I understand that. But if you are going to lash out in frustration – which is only natural in such circumstances – it seems more natural to me if it was directed to questioning why this area has no culture of innovation , no culture of job creation, English-only or otherwise, at all? Instead of asking “Why are some many jobs requiring Spanish?”, I feel a better question is, “Why are there so few jobs in the first place?”

In the meantime, I tell the kids that have bilingual skills that, just like your grandparents and mine, they have the opportunity to leverage that in great ways, in local jobs or distant, as ambassadors in business and to the nation. America does business with the world, and we can only do that by being able to communicate in both English and the native tongues of places. That is where our success in job creation will come from, and the healing of the economy too…and there is plenty of room in there for English speakers, for example, it is not like I can read, write or speak the 30 or so languages I have managed and delivered projects in successfully.

So let’s be fair about your frustration – which is totally understandable- and what we lash out as the cause of the frustration -which is not, OK? That’s my point, and I hope no insult is taken, because no insult is intended.

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You want me to show you studies that show Hispanics assimilate as fast if not faster than previous generations? Will you feel better if I do? Probably not, but in case you would, Here is a start, I am sure google has a zillion more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/01/28/hispanic-immigrants-are-assimilating-just-as-quickly-as-earlier-groups/

>You’re blind if you don’t see it, especially living in this area.

Can I ask what the job was? It might be too much personal information, which is why I didn’t ask before, and if you don’t want to answer, that’s fine by me, but it is striking that you feel you are qualified without the language skills, and the hiring manager felt that the language skills are a “must have”. maybe you are right, but I don’t have that kind of information on.

As for whether jobs in this area often require Spanish language skills, thus disqualifying me, or, in places like where I was over the holiday, in the Little Saigon area of Westminster, if Vietnamese would be needed for every job there that didn’t involve washing dishes, well so be it. I don’t know how I could be an effective employee if I can’t communicate effectively with the other emplyees or the customers or the suppliers or all of the above. 99% of the time it is not even a judgment call, no matter how much I wanted to work there, or was otherwise qualified.

Could that be what is happening in your case? You are otherwise qualified, but communication within the business really does require spanish?

> I CANNOT GET A JOB BECAUSE TWO OF THE ONES I’M QUALIFIED FOR REQUIRE BILINGUAL SKILLS.

BTW, my own primary skills are around software development, and there are no jobs here that meet my skillsets, no matter how much I wish there were, and that requires very explicit and in many ways disfavorable compromises on my part if I want to be here.

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