Virginia Tech and wood education resource center to sponsor workshop on managing the Hispanic workforce

BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 29, 2008 – With increasing immigration rates, employers are facing new cultural, communication, and legal challenges in the workforce. In order to address these issues, the Virginia Tech's Sloan Foundation Forest Industries Center and the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service's Wood Education and Resource Center are co-sponsoring an interactive workshop to improve management skills in a multicultural environment.

Employers and managers are encouraged to attend the workshop, Managing the Hispanic Workforce, on March 17 at the Wood Education and Resource Center in Princeton, W.Va. The forum is aimed to benefit professionals in the forest industry who are considering employing multicultural staff.

“Ultimately a business gets things done by maintaining clear channels of communication at all levels of the organization,” said Earl Kline, wood science and forest products professor and co-director of the Sloan Foundation Forest Industries Center. “As our business workforce becomes more and more diverse in terms of culture as well as language what used to work effectively for clear communication is now becoming distorted communication. This workshop will help participants understand emerging communication pitfalls to avoid and provide some practical tools to apply with today’s changing workforce.”

One of the main objectives of the event is to guide employers in structuring a business that values diversity and creating a supportive environment for Hispanic employees. The workshop will also focus on overcoming the language barrier by practicing industry specific vocabulary and teaching alternative communication tools. Guest speakers and a lawyer specializing in immigration will discuss the legal implications of employing Hispanic staff. The forum will conclude with a roundtable discussion to allow participants to discuss experiences and solutions involved with hiring, training, retaining, and managing a diverse workforce.

A fee of $300 will cover registration, instructional materials, continental breakfasts, coffee breaks, and lunch. United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service employees are eligible for a 50 percent discount at the time of registration. The registration deadline is March 10; registrations are limited to the first 45 applicants. To register, complete a registration form and return with payment or register online. For additional information, e-mail Marina Cogo or call (540) 231-2161.

The College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech consistently ranks among the top five programs of its kind in the nation. Faculty members stress both the technical and human elements of natural resources and instill in students a sense of stewardship and land-use ethics. Areas of studies include environmental resource management, fisheries and wildlife sciences, forestry, geospatial and environmental analysis, natural resource recreation, urban forestry, wood science and forest products, geography, and international development.