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Business Told: Gear Up for Minorities


ORANGE — With half of Southern California's population expected to be made up of ethnic minorities by the year 2000, corporations need to do more to prepare for the changing demographics and the effects they will bring to the workplace, speakers at a conference for Latino students and professionals said Tuesday.

Keynote speaker Henry Cisneros, a former mayor of San Antonio, Tex., said that corporate America has to deal with the changing population if it wants to remain strong in the international market. And Latino students, he said, must look more to careers in professional, technical and scientific fields and sharpen different skills, such as language, that will help them succeed in the corporate environment.

"It's a whole new ballgame," Cisneros said at a conference sponsored by the Yorba Linda-based Assn. of Hispanic Professionals for Education and attended by about 800 students and representatives from about 40 corporations from throughout the Southland. "The stakes are very high. America will only be able to compete if its youths are trained," Cisneros predicted.

The students attended workshops on career skills and met with representatives from such companies as Allstate Insurance, Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Co., McDonnell Douglas, Carl Karcher Enterprises, IBM and Beatrice/Hunt-Wesson. This is the second year in a row that the conference was held in Orange.

The conference has grown rapidly since it was first held in Ontario in 1986, when about 250 students attended, conference co-chairman Alejandro Tovares said.

"The number keeps growing because there's a demand for this," Tovares said. He pointed out that the conference has been successful at placing students with employers who attend the annual event.

Cisneros, citing a study by the RAND Corp., said Orange County's population will be composed of 40% minorities by the year 2000, contrasted with an estimated 60% in Los Angeles County.

"Everything is possible," he said. "We just have to work on the education."

Cisneros was mayor of San Antonio from 1981 to 1989 and was considered by Walter F. Mondale as a vice presidential running mate in 1984.

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