January 18, 2023

Our region’s workforce is changing. The 20-55-year-old Hispanic population in Southeast Philadelphia represents the fastest-growing ethnic demographic in the region. And according to a recent workforce study conducted by DVIRC, MontCo Works, and Emsi Burning Glass, The manufacturing sector in Southeast Pennsylvania is less racially and ethnically diverse than other sectors in the region, and it is less racially and ethnically diverse than manufacturing in the United States in general.

Employment networks are self-reinforcing—parents recommend jobs to their children, friends recommend jobs to one another, and coworkers find out about opportunities from interacting in the workplace—so the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the manufacturing sector, coupled with the age of the manufacturing workforce, means that manufacturing employers are naturally less connected to the diverse, young talent of the future than employers in other sectors.

However, that trend is beginning to change and as more and more Spanish-speaking workers enter the manufacturing workforce, companies are learning that a changing workforce requires a new approach to training and upskilling. DVIRC believes that language and background should not be a barrier when it comes to teaching best practices and developing your people, which is why we held our first-ever Spanish Supervisor Training program in December of 2022.

This program, facilitated by DVIRC partner Jannette Cano de Schenk, was delivered virtually to Spanish-speaking supervisors from across the country with great success. Not only were these participants able to engage with the course and be presented with tools and best practices in their primary language, but they were also able to converse with one another and the instructor without inhibition.

Jannette brings multilingual abilities and multicultural experience in entrepreneurial leadership and executive management. She has worked on several domestic and global projects, elevating managers’ performance in diverse industries.

We sat down with Jannette to discuss the outcomes of the Spanish Supervisor Training program.

What need do you see for Spanish Supervisor Training among manufacturers?

Manufacturing is an industry that relies significantly on different cultural groups, especially at the front-line levels, with Spanish speakers being one of the largest ones.

This group requires supervisors that can communicate in their language so they can lead, motivate, and deliver the best outcome for the company while keeping their teams safe and successful.

In the past, customized training for this group has been limited. However, there is a key need to train Spanish-speaking supervisors and managers who have been promoted to these roles due to their excellent performance but need formal managerial training.

The Spanish Supervisor Training will allow them to accomplish their job more effectively and efficiently.


What value do you see in delivering programs like Supervisor Training in Spanish?

Business courses delivered in Spanish are vital to the success of organizations. This training offers key valuable elements and tools that will make a supervisor successful when managing their team.

In this class, we don’t want the participants to check a box and say they completed it but instead see their crucial role as supervisors. We dedicate time for them to learn critical tools and practices and to find ways to incorporate them into their work.

Non-native English speakers, especially those who still need to become fully fluent in English, often feel more empowered to engage with the material in Spanish. They are more comfortable exploring and exchanging thoughts and ideas and show a more profound commitment to their role.

Many supervisors are responsible for fellow Spanish speakers and knowing the key concepts in their native tongue allows them to implement them more effectively across their teams.


What are some of the issues you’ve seen with workers transitioning to a supervisory role?

Moving someone from a front-line position to a supervisor level without training can be very challenging. Some issues include transitioning from peer to supervisor, giving feedback, developing proper training, etc. Through training, we can support supervisors in learning how to transition and become better at their job.


What advice would you give to employers with Spanish-speaking leaders in their workforce?

I suggest investing in this group. Hispanics constitute a large segment of the workforce. They bring different perspectives and skill sets that benefit the work environment. Trained supervisors and managers become the bridge of connection and communication, creating a more innovative, positive, inclusive, and productive culture.

In addition, your investment in them will demonstrate a commitment to their development and result in a greater sense of commitment toward the organization.

Edgardo Negrón, Supervisor for Qfix and a participant in Jannette’s Spanish Supervisor Training course shared the following:

“I learned many things that I may have seen differently before. My teammates and Jannette helped me a lot to continue improving as a person. I would say there’s not much to change or improve. All the topics and points we touch on are extraordinary for someone like me who started this stage as a supervisor. Teacher Jannette’s kindness is great. If you’re willing to learn, she is very willing to invest back in you.”

We at DVIRC are thrilled to add Spanish Supervisor Training (Capacitación de Supervisores) as well as Spanish Principles of Lean (Principios de Lean) to our curriculum of course offerings. If you have a Spanish-speaking workforce that you’re looking to upskill, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Training and Education Coordinator, Jen Enoch, at jenoch@dvirc.org.

Click here to view our Training & Education calendar.