Op-Ed: ‘No hay trabajo in Puerto Rico!’

Written by  //  August 22, 2016  //  Biz Views  //  30 Comments

Author Maria Procaccino is a Condado resident and co-founder of the Renace Condado community group.

Author Maria Procaccino is a Condado resident and co-founder of the Renace Condado community group.

For the past 3½ months I participated as part of a recruitment team for a major company located in Hato Rey as the pre-employment evaluator for communication competency of candidates.

The company was recruiting for almost 400 positions in their local call center. The eventual employees would be working as agents for numerous Fortune 500 companies on the mainland, providing those company’s employees with benefits support and information.

“No hay trabajo in Puerto Rico!”

For two months, we struggled to recruit candidates to meet the weekly numbers necessary to fill the jobs. The requirements were simple: customer service experience, previous call center experience preferred; excellent communication skills, excellent English a plus; good computer skills. Pay level at the top of the local call center payscale; shifts from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., no overnight shifts, possibility of overtime and weekend time; and transportation allowance. All positions were full-time, temporary with some full-time, permanent positions available. Sound good?

“No hay trabajo in Puerto Rico!”

Each week, we struggled to get 15, 18 or 20 candidates to evaluate. Evaluating 15 or 20 potential candidates meant we accepted as few as 12 or possibly 16 to 18 qualified candidates to send on to the hiring managers who in turn would narrow the selection down further.

At the end of July, still having 200 positions to be filled, we decided a job fair was the way to go.  Announcements and advertisements were prepared in both Spanish and English, ads were placed multiple times in all major publications in Puerto Rico as well as weekly on all major web sites, the Veterans Administration site, job recruitment sites, and social media sites.  Major publications also gave us publicity about our 200 jobs.

The first day of the job fair, 45 people showed up.

The second day of the job fair, 40 people showed up.

The third day of the job fair, 29 people showed up.

One day, 50 showed up.

On another day, 27 people showed up.

After 3 ½ months, we finally completed our task and filled 99 percent of the positions. Today, at the final hire event, we had three no-shows: no call, no email… just didn’t show up.

“No hay trabajo in Puerto Rico?”

How is it possible that on an island with more than 11 percent unemployment there were not lines out the door each day of our job fair?  How is it possible that on an island of over-educated, underemployed people there were no lines out the door each day we held the job fair?

How is it possible that on an island with more than 11 percent unemployment people are not prepared to meet the minimum requirements to work in what is arguably the best work environment on the island?  How is it possible that people can say ‘No hay trabajo en Puerto Rico” and not show up where and when there is opportunity?

Many thousands will show up this week for the celebration for Monica Puig, an accomplishment to be celebrated for sure, but with no bearing on working or earning a living.

“Hay trabajo in Puerto Rico!” You have to show up for it!

30 Comments on "Op-Ed: ‘No hay trabajo in Puerto Rico!’"

  1. christina August 22, 2016 at 2:08 PM · Reply

    where should I subscribe to, to be able to get notices of jobs like that?

    Thanks

  2. Beatriz Ramirez Betances August 22, 2016 at 3:58 PM · Reply

    Most people in Puerto Rico do not have excellent English skills. And those who do are usually professionals who will not work for data entry or customer services, and who most likely have already a job. Professionals leave because the salaries are not enough to cover cost of living.
    Evidently, the writer does not know nor understand the complexities of Puerto Rico’s working force.

  3. Sol Rdz August 22, 2016 at 4:59 PM · Reply

    Where did they post this job or the job fair announcement? I know many people that would have been interested in a position like the one that she is talking about. Certainly the English language can be a barrier for many people in the island.

  4. Dontell DeTruth August 22, 2016 at 5:38 PM · Reply

    Is this The Onion?

  5. Wilfredo Ramos August 22, 2016 at 5:53 PM · Reply

    Anyone with a degree will apply for a job to be in a call center earning the federal minimum wage

  6. Cotto August 22, 2016 at 6:49 PM · Reply

    I am actually not surprised. This is not new. I grew up in PR in a small town where very little job opportunities were available. As a teenager I was always in the quest of finding a job and always found them through the federal summer and college employment programs. While I was standing in line to apply there were many who sat home waiting for the job to land on their lap. I went to the UPR – Rio Piedras and prior to graduating I had 2 job offers from national accounting firms. It takes drive, truly wanting and going after the job. There is this notion that “I am too good for the type of work” and they prefer staying at home even if their broke. Attitude is everything. While many islanders do not want these jobs because customer service is not their “ideal job”, laziness or just plain fear there are those that will take the opportunity and run with it. As to the ones that did not show up, they were just rude and unprofessional. Thank you for working so hard providing job opportunities that are much needed in PR. I can tell you that the ones that showed up and you recruited are hard workers and reliable employees.

    • Melamascan August 22, 2016 at 9:53 PM · Reply

      they’re broke

      • Cotto August 23, 2016 at 12:05 AM · Reply

        Thank you. You’re correct.

      • Zenon August 26, 2016 at 9:27 AM · Reply

        You are correct I lived there for many years and many use the English language as a barrier but if you have the will and the need you will learn it just like I learned how to speak Spanish (because of the need and the will) … And unfortunately the majority that are unemployed love to live off of what the government has to offer them and than blames the government of them being poor… Anyone that is unemployed or underemployed with a degree or no degree should be looking for a Job or a career…

    • ElZorro September 1, 2016 at 9:08 AM · Reply

      It takes drive, truly wanting and going after the job.????? Your are comparing a job at a national accounting firm with a job for a call center?

      My dear – 8/hr taking into consideration gas, parking, etc. Im not sure i would go to interview either. I differ with you on the laziness comment. cost of living in PR is high. 7.50 an hour doesnt cut it. mowing grass or a vocation might be best served.

      Im surprised you couldnt tell the difference from a accounting job to a call center job. For a college graduate hmmm

  7. Christian August 22, 2016 at 7:14 PM · Reply

    I’m sorry…what?

  8. Aixa Medina August 22, 2016 at 8:05 PM · Reply

    Es interesante leer el articulo y los comentarios.

    Estoy de acuerdo con la premisa inicial. Hay Trabajo en Puerto Rico.
    Salarios del minimo federal y con horarios como menciono la escritora, de 7am a 7pm

    La fuerza trabajadora que le interesa ese tipo de trabajo son estudiantes nocturnos o personas sin educación.

    Por lo que leo la gente piensa que si no tienes trabajo debes aceptar lo que sea. Pues de respetan tu opinion cuando Te quedes sin empleo recuerdalo…

    Si leen bien esto es un full time job, por lo tanto, se asume que o estudiantes tu Bachillerato o tienes tu 4año. Si tienes Bachillerato esto no Te llamará la atención . Me parece que el dato de salario falto. ¿Por que será? Será por que solo ofrecian el mínimo federal?

    Ciudado con lo que opinamos. Hay ofertas de empleo con salarios y horarios de enclavos y nada de beneficios.

  9. Jennifer Martinez August 22, 2016 at 9:51 PM · Reply

    I would of loved a job like that but to go all the way to Hato Rey is counter productive all my earnings would go towards gas and tolls. Not to mention an hour an a half each way. There’s plenty of people that want to work but when the only opportunities are in the metro area it doesn’t give much of a chance for the rest of the island.

  10. I. Hernandez August 22, 2016 at 9:54 PM · Reply

    I’m not surprised either, lot of jobs offers that rings like red light pro sellers, candy or chocolate sellers, or one I personally attend for one week just to try to sell a 2K water filtration system to …..your friends or family? You can comb Clasificadosonline with 2k job offers, please do and behold, Indeed job offers are just for whom, Monster…have to be a really good sniffer to differenciate a real job from a good mock!!!

  11. Saul August 22, 2016 at 11:45 PM · Reply

    Never heard of it. Would have loved to be interviewed. Is it over?

  12. Jose Lopez August 23, 2016 at 8:28 PM · Reply

    This article is very condescending. Can you hire 400 bilingual people in 3.5 months, asking them to work from 7AM-7PM for minimal wage while doing background checks? I think that’s a pretty good hiring Job. My company takes 3 months from the interview process to the moment you walk throug the door just to hire one employee( if they call you for an interview).

  13. YadiraHM August 23, 2016 at 10:08 PM · Reply

    I understand your frustration, but many of us who have been unemployed apply for jobs and never get called back again because as you said are over educated. Maybe professionals who’ve had a similar experience thought “there not giving me the job, I’ve already tried.” It is not an excuse to stop trying but many think like this. Hope the company gets ahead with the resources they need. It is a great opportunity in deed.

  14. Alberto Marquez August 24, 2016 at 1:45 AM · Reply

    I certainly didn’t hear about this allegedly big gung ho campaign to fill 200 call center positions but it doesn’t surprise me. In addition what the author calls “the top of the pay scale for call centers in Puerto Rico” is probably $8.00/hr. Plus the description of requirements for the job were conveniently ambiguous so hire managers can hire whoever they like best and use the lack of requirements as an excuse not to hire many people.

  15. A. Matos August 24, 2016 at 8:18 AM · Reply

    I used to work for the company the author is referring to. (She doesn’t mention the company’s name, but every single detail she describes matches exactly and perfectly with the company’s modus operandi. Trust me, I know it’s the same company. I worked there for three years.) What she fails to mention is that the VAST majority of the 400 employees they recruited (or will recruit) WILL be summarily and unceremoniously fired in about four months, and those fired will again be in a position to continue saying: “¡No hay trabajo en Puerto Rico!”. This happens every year.

  16. Elia M. August 24, 2016 at 9:52 AM · Reply

    I work for the company that this article makes reference to. This is the company’s peak season for the call center segment and almost if not all will enter with a temporary contract but at the end of the peak season a good majority will be made permanent employees, those who are not made permanent either are laid off due to performance or get an extended contract.

    Even though they are an entry level job, they pay $10.50 per hour. Depending on the client team you’re assigned, your call volume might be very high, but there are also clients whose call volume is very minimal; on that part it’s just luck. All call center shifts are 8 hour shifts with chances of working overtime.

    A lot of people don’t apply because of what the requirements say. The most important requirement for this company’s call center is your English proficiency, experience comes second. Also, people see the call center as a dead end job. Though in a lot of companies might be like that, over here there’s a lot of opportunities to grow within the company and branch out to other departments, even if you don’t have the experience they’ll give you the experience. I can attest to that.

  17. Joanne August 24, 2016 at 12:20 PM · Reply

    Would you have hired an MBA / JD without call center experiencs?

    • Earl August 24, 2016 at 3:26 PM · Reply

      Can you comment of what has been your experience in the job market with the JD/MBA? How long have you been trying? Thank you for your input.

  18. Earl August 24, 2016 at 2:45 PM · Reply

    The job market is horrible. I can’t believe this article. I mean, requiring “customer service experience, previous call center experience preferred; excellent English a plus…” This is Puerto Rico, English is not the language spoken by the great majority of Puertorricans. People in Puerto Rico speak their language, Spanish. This is not United States, English is not well known by most Puertorricans because is not used in daily live and a lot of people don’t know the language whatsoever. Maybe a very basic level of English, but that’s it. Also, in a job market that has been on a economic depression, is difficult for people to find a job in the first place. Asking for experience, especially in an area in particular as is customer service, can be a challenge. A lot of people want to work, to the point to sacrifice themselves moving from their homeland to another country to find work. Once again…I can’t believe this article.

  19. Mercy August 24, 2016 at 8:01 PM · Reply

    While the government gives them free coupons and free items, no one will work. In order for PR move forward that have to work to earn coupons.

  20. Jose August 24, 2016 at 8:09 PM · Reply

    So, let’s see full time 7 am to 7 pm, Hato Rey, fully bilingual…and how much? 8 or 9 an hour at most. Sorry lady. Try again. This piece is just another piece of hogwash and bs trying to justify why them wacky portoricans are a bunch of lazy bastards. Next!

  21. Edwin August 24, 2016 at 8:30 PM · Reply

    Wow; I wonder where all the engineers, doctors, lawyers, and other professionals where instead of responding to a call for call center opportunities? At least the author got her comments published. How awesome is that?

  22. ElZorro September 1, 2016 at 9:14 AM · Reply

    to the author: How much money does the recruiting firm keep from the 300 employees on a contractual basis? How much did you make?

    You live in Condado. Mi’ja please get a reality check

  23. Justaperson September 4, 2016 at 12:22 PM · Reply

    Since the day this Op-ed was published I’ve been thinking of ways to comment. I’ll leave this article around here and let it do the speaking for me. Good day!

    http://www.elnuevodia.com/noticias/locales/nota/mitosdelapobreza-2237656/

    • ElZorro September 9, 2016 at 1:34 PM · Reply

      Interesting article! Maria Poccaccino is a ten percenter who thinks she can get away by talking down to people. The ENDI article is very interesting and I would agree with some of the conclusions…

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