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A new brief from Excelencia in Education, an advocacy organization for Latino students, calls on employers to meet U.S. workforce needs by partnering with universities to increase the number of Latino college graduates.

The brief says higher education institutions and employers should invest in high-wage, high-demand career pathways by developing stackable credentials and funding short-term career programs, provide transition services between credential completion and employment, and develop a Latino talent pipeline.

Excelencia’s findings show that although people of Hispanic ethnicity have the highest labor force participation rates, at 66 percent, they are also most likely to be employed in manual labor occupations and earn the lowest average salary compared to other racial groups. 

For example, only 33 percent of Latinos in the labor force in 2021 had earned an associate degree or higher, compared to 69 percent of Asian Americans, 55 percent of white Americans, and 45 percent of Black Americans, according to the brief. And the median weekly wage for a Latino worker ($800) is 20 percent less than that of a white worker ($1,000).

The brief also identifies the top 25 institutions with the highest credential attainment rates for Latinos as of the 2019–20 academic year and highlights those that are providing opportunities for employers to engage college-educated Latino talent.

“This report provides clear information on where Latinos are earning degrees and the strategies institutions implement to intentionally serve their students to prepare for civic leadership and the workforce,” said Deborah Santiago, co-founder and CEO of Excelencia. “Our new analysis empowers institutions and employers to align their efforts to proactively engage and recruit Latino graduates where they are.”