United States Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis recently spoke with HispanicBusiness and discussed some of the most critical issues facing Hispanics. She touched upon female wages, student loans and even discussed how the Department of Labor utilizes social media. She also shared useful tools for job searchers.
Solis is the 25th Secretary of Labor, a role she assumed in February 2009, and the first Hispanic woman to serve in the U.S. Cabinet. She was nominated by President Obama. Read on to find out what the Department of Labor is doing to help the economy.
HispanicBusiness: What gets you excited to go to work in the morning?
Solis: I go to sleep every night-—and wake up every morning-—thinking about what my department can do to help speed our recovery and put more Americans back to work. I travel a lot in my position and I hear the stories of struggle and sacrifices. I know families are still hurting. Many have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and my staff and I are working our hearts out to get them the skills training, job search assistance and benefits they need and deserve.
Yet even though we are recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, I also feel a sense of optimism when I meet with workers. They are so determined, and they never give up.
One of the most important resources out there is our American Job Center Network, and we're working hard to get the word out. We have nearly 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers that can provide the help that displaced workers need to prepare for the next step in their career. They can be accessed at physical locations in communities across the country or online at careeronestop.org.
But perhaps the most rewarding part of my job is working to give young people a sense of hope and confidence that they can achieve their dreams. My department runs wonderful programs like Jobs Corps and Youth Build that can give them the credentials employers are looking for. We have resources for everyone, and I've placed a special emphasis on reaching out to the Latino community. We're the fastest growing group of Americans, and our advancement is so important to this country's larger economic recovery.
HispanicBusiness: What's an average day like for you?
Solis: No two days are alike for me. On a given day, I might sign off on a grant award to help families in a community impacted by a plant closing or natural disaster. Then I might meet with my staff members about implementing a regulation to ensure that domestic care workers who look after our aging parents are making the minimum wage and overtime pay to which they'e entitled. I might then go speak to a labor union about partnering with their local factory on a registered apprenticeship program to help give their members new skills that employers are desperately seeking.
Other days I may go to Capitol Hill to testify about why extending unemployment benefits is so critical, or why cutting our job training budget would have a disastrous impact on our economy. In the summer months, I visit agricultural fields and other workplaces to make sure workers have the facts about how to stay safe in the summer heat; my department oversees a campaign to prevent heat illness. I might end the day at a cabinet meeting to talk about our efforts to preserve the integrity of our unemployment insurance system and reduce the number of improper payments. There are never enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done.
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