Stronger education from the start will lead to prosperity
Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part series.
Numbers talk, and when it comes to the Latino population in the U.S., they tell a remarkable story. It seems no one ignores Latinos in the U.S. anymore: Pollsters fact check data ad nauseam to detect trends among Latino voters for the 2016 election because their votes count. Corporations turn their attention toward Latinos in the U.S. Who wouldn’t when their purchasing power is estimated to reach $1.3 trillion in 2015?
Another demographic trend also foretells an unprecedented story about the U.S. and its people. An aging white population is on the rise, and its fertility rates are on the decline. Conversely, Latinos are reproducing at high rates, and the population is young. Based on current demographic projections:
– Latinos will continue to increase as a percentage of the total U.S. population through 2050, up from 12.6% in 2000.
– They’ll go from approximately one in seven persons to 30.2% in 2050, or one in every three individuals.
Source: Congressional Research Service
The Education Gap
In general, things appear to be looking up for Latinos, and it’s all about the future. But what future is that?
Let’s remember another piece of data that tells a different story: Education attainment among Latinos remains low, undermining their potential and future success:
– 63 percent of Latinos graduate from high school, compared with 88 percent of whites and 84 percent of African-Americans.
– 14 percent of Latinos obtain a college degree, while 30 percent of whites and 20 percent of African-Americans reach that level of education.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Opportunities for Improvement
Latinos are a minority population on the rise, and their low education levels should be a source of concern not only for them but for the U.S. as a whole. The nation cannot afford to have an underclass of this magnitude, as Henry Cisneros, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said last week during his keynote address at the gala for the Latino Community Foundation of San Francisco. The room exploded in applause. Clearly, we all thought “Indeed!” The nation will benefit when education levels among Latinos soar.
For this article, I interviewed Dr. David Lopez, president of The National Hispanic University, located in San Jose, Calif. Lopez is emphatic about the importance of Latino education and keenly sees a strong connection between higher education levels and greater entrepreneurial success. With this vision on hand, the university now has an online business program designed to provide training that expands the acumen of its students while encouraging leadership and entrepreneurship. Education, Lopez argues, is paramount, as it enables youths to be persuasive speakers, skillful fact finders and resourceful visionaries. We know two important things:
1. These capacities are essential for business development.
2. Businesses represent a major engine of growth and innovation.
In a study funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, researchers found exactly that: Education is a strong predictor of emerging entrepreneurship, particularly for Hispanics.