SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Tearing down barriers to a good career. That was the mission at a job fair held today in Springfield.
A local Hispanic support organization called ALAS brought in volunteer translators. This helped accomplish the fair’s ultimate goal, which was being one step closer to having a more diverse workforce.
“Having a diverse workforce really gives a business a competitive edge,” Director of Workforce Development Mary Ann Rojas said.
Rojas turned this belief into Springfield’s second annual job fair, with ALAS, for Spanish speakers.
Alas brought in volunteer translators to help. Co-founder Yeni Vasquez says the decision to help out again was a no-brainer for her team.
“Here in Springfield, the percentages are small, but we are coming here,” Vasquez said. “You see more Hispanics here, and we need to know about different jobs, and maybe get to some leadership positions.”
Seven local employers were there. This includes Mercy, Walmart and Cintas. Employers took resumes, and some people even got hired on the spot.
“A mom came in today,” Vasquez said. “She was like I’m working, I’m super tired, my kids say they are tired of me working every night. So she got an application and I guess like a position with Cintas so she was super excited.”
With one person already employed, Rojas says Cintas is becoming more diverse. She says the benefits of diversity are almost immediate for a company.
“Individuals bringing different perspectives, individuals that bring innovation and creativity to an organization,” Rojas said.
The city of Springfield’s latest community survey shows based off the respondents, five percent Hispanics or Latinos make up Springfield’s demographics. Even with a small representation in town, Vasquez says local businesses should be more open to diversity, as it can help everyone involved.
“People need to be open about how different cultures are,” Vasquez said. “The exposure they can get, and the knowledge, and the things they can learn from some other culture… I mean, they’re great. It’s a win-win situation for everybody.”
Rojas says she plans on keeping this job fair an annual event. She also says in most cases when these people get hired, a translator will already be part of their employer’s staff.