This week, the CareerForce spotlight is on the Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council! Staff members at SWPIC, as they are known, have partnered with local organizations to help serve area residents who speak languages other than English, meet the needs of local health care providers, educational institutions, employers and more.
There are very diverse counties in Southwest Minnesota, including Nobles County, the second most diverse county in the state of Minnesota. It is estimated that there are 84 different languages and/or dialects spoken in Nobles County. Nearly a third of the residents speak a language other than English at home. A significant number of new immigrants in the community rely on interpreters or community connectors to navigate vital program services including county services, legal services, health services, and assistance with searching and applying for employment. With record setting low unemployment rates and a significant labor shortage, employers in the region are hiring more immigrants. They too have a great need for interpreters. To address the significant need of the new immigrants in the community, the great need for employees, and to create a career pathway that is in high-demand, good paying, and capitalizes on the strengths of our job seekers, SWPIC, in collaboration with its partners, facilitated the Certified Community Interpreter Training.
Upon completion of training and earning their Community Interpreter certificate, many individuals are finding work at $25 to 30 per hour as certified interpreters with an employer – and much more as self-employed contractors. Plus, local employers, counties, legal services, social services, health services and other community organizations now have access to in-person interpreters for a greater number of the languages/dialects that were previously unavailable. And now that employers have access to hire an interpreter, employers gain a whole new labor pool to recruit from and create more inclusive work environments.
SWPIC partnered with many local organizations including Southwest ABE Consortium, Minnesota West Community and Technical College, and ARCH Language Academy to bring this win-win-win initiative to life. SWPIC utilized funds from the Pathways to Prosperity grant to offer Certified Community Interpreter classes and offers case management and support services to the participants.
SWPIC was recognized as a promising practice early this summer by the Minnesota Association of Workforce Boards.
Find out more about the Community Interpreter Training and Certification initiative spearheaded by SWPIC and its partners.