Losing good jobs to other countries leaves many students wondering what they can do personally to combat outsourcing.
With Central Michigan University’s Cultural Competency Certificate, which first became available for students during the spring semester in 2013, they might have found a potential solution.
“I’m fortunate to be leading this effort for the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences (CHSBS),” said Orlando Pérez, director of cultural and global studies programs. “The cultural certificate is one of seven certificates in the cultural and global studies program.”
The certificate will help students be competitive in the global job market by teaching them cultural sensitivity and allowing them to assimilate into foreign work environments.
These certificates consist of 16-to 18-hour programs that are flexible and are able to fit into a number of different majors across the university.
“You don’t have to be majoring in a CHSBS major,” Perez said. “These are intended as a way of packaging courses that many students are already taking as part of their UP (credits).”
Having this type of cultural knowledge is something that sociology, anthropology and social work professor Tracy Brown said is important for a student’s fundamental thinking skills.
“The goal for cultural competency is to essentially give students the experience, or at least reading and thinking critically outside of their particular racial or ethnic group,” Brown said. “You can kind of double-count courses if you’re interested. These are designed to essentially allow students to build them into their majors easily.”
Along with gaining a different perspective on other cultures, adding this certificate to a student’s resume makes them more employable to international and even local businesses.
“If you listen to employers across the country, one of the things that they keep telling us is that culturally-savvy employees are very important because businesses, whether they are in the private sector or in the public sector, are increasingly having to deal with serving a variety of cultures,” Perez said. “We live in an increasingly diverse world, so any type of business is going to have to deal with globalization and diverse cultures, whether it’s in terms of their customers, business partners or where they import/export their products.”
Along with providing an employer with the knowledge that students are well-versed in cultural competency, the certificate has other benefits.
“It doesn’t mean that you’ll get a job, but what it tells employers is that you did well on those courses and achieved certification,” Pérez said. “And you can market yourself as having those skills and employers are looking for those skills.”
This type of marketability can often-times give recent graduates who are applying for jobs an upper hand.
“Employers consistently tell us that they can provide the job-specific skills on the job,” Perez said. “What they don’t have the time to provide and what they can’t do is teach critical thinking skills, analytical skills, writing, communication, language or how to deal with diverse cultures. It would cost them a lot of money and effort to train employees in those skills. If our students bring to the table those skills, they are ahead of the game.”
As the U.S. becomes more culturally diverse, this type of understanding and reasoning is becoming more important for students to attain. It’s also a reminder to CMU students that there are different places and people outside of the state.
“Part of this is also a way to bridge or help bring (students) along to the idea that there is something bigger out there than Michigan,” said George Ronan, director of general education.
Perez said students must accept the threat of job outsourcing is also a big deal that needs to be stifled in order to maintain adequate jobs for college graduates.
“The best immunization against outsourcing is having these skills,” Perez said. “These skills are not going to be able to be duplicated easily and more cheaply by workers in India being paid $1 a day or something like that. If you want to inoculate yourself against being outsourced, these are some of the skills you’re going to need to show your employers.”