February 11 at 8:30am

Knocking down language barriers to employment

Making use of employment services is easier now for Interfaith’s Spanish-speaking clients.

Thanks to the efforts of employment specialist Nidya Ramirez, those clients now have access to documents, as well as various workshops and services, in Spanish.

Upon her hiring at Interfaith Community Services in July, Ramirez began translating all the materials used by the employment services department into Spanish. The department is now offering separate orientations and job academies in Spanish and English.

“This is a long overdue offering of our agency,” said Olga Diaz, director of employment services. “Adding Spanish forms and orientations makes our offerings more effective for the community.”

It took Ramirez about a month to translate all the various documents and PowerPoint presentations used by the employment services department. Before that, even if a client’s case manager spoke Spanish, all the applications in the initial registration process were in English.

Having the forms available in Spanish eases the learning process for the job-seeking clients. They are able to better understand how to fill out job applications in English after getting used to understanding the questions asked on the forms in their native language.

“They learn to recognize words, so that when they walk into a place and apply, they can recognize those terms,” Ramirez explained.

Offering orientations and job academies in Spanish allows more clients to participate in the employment programs, which include assistance in writing resumes and cover letters, interviewing, and how best to detail their past work experience for prospective employers.

“They need to know how to show in an application ‘I’m great.’ Sometimes that can be tough,” said Ramirez. “During the job academy they have a resume component; how to write it, why it is important. Then when they are meeting (employers) they can get more in depth.”

The new offerings have already helped clients land new jobs. Ramirez mentioned a man who came into the North County Labor Connection day-laborer office looking for work. He was referred to employment services and soon was hired to work in a nursery. A female client was hired by a local casino after going through the Spanish-language training.

“She was really happy. She came by and brought me a Christmas gift,” said Ramirez. “She was really thankful she was able to navigate the process.”

In addition to the offerings in Spanish, the employment services department has also created a hiring program for domestic workers at Church of the Resurrection in Escondido.

Similar to Interfaith’s day-laborer program, the new effort will connect housekeepers, nannies, and caregivers at the church with other church members in need of those services.

The new job registry makes it easier for domestic workers to find work. It also adds a level of comfort for the workers and those hiring them.

“One employer said she felt comfortable hiring (a worker) because she was part of Resurrection Church,” said Ramirez. “So it’s not only generating employment, it’s creating some community within the church.”
The program began in November.

“We’re working on spreading the word,” said Ramirez.