Aware of the importance for youth to have a first job experience, the Puerto Rico Department of Economic Development and Commerce will provide 200 young people the chance to get started in the workplace, through the “Juvempleo” project, which has been assigned $1 million to cover the payroll for hiring companies.
Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Manuel A. Laboy-Rivera opened the call for youth and employers to participate through the Youth Development Program, under the agency’s umbrella.
“We call on young people and employers to participate in this program that provides viable employment alternatives to young people who sometimes find it very difficult to get work because they have no previous experience,” Laboy-Rivera said.
“This program not only greatly increases their chances of being hired, but also opens the doors to showcase their talents, knowledge and professionalism, with the possibility of being retained in employment after completing their participation in the program,” said Laboy Rivera.
Another advantage of “Juvempleo” is that it “helps to mitigate the brain drain that Puerto Rico has been experiencing while adding an additional resource for employers, especially after the economic damages suffered after hurricane María,” Laboy-Rivera said.
“Juvempleo” will initially provide 100 job opportunities and before the end of the fiscal year in July 2018, an additional 100 job opportunities will be added for 18- to 29-year-olds from across the island that qualify for a first work experience in their field of study, said Roberto Pagán-Santiago, executive director of the Youth Development Program.
“Both employers and young people must contact us to benefit from this program. To apply, candidates must be pursuing their senior, technical or vocational degree, be residents of Puerto Rico and have had no previous work experience,” Santiago-Pagán said.
Those selected will receive a salary of $ 7.25 an hour for 520 hours, or 6 months of employment in the private or government sectors.
“However, we prefer to promote job creation in the private sector,” said Santiago-Pagán.
The government official said the initiative is “doubly beneficial” because in addition to providing a first employment experience, young people have the opportunity to be kept in the position once the program hours are up.
Meanwhile, it provides employers, educated and trained human resources, without having to incur in payroll expenses.
“They can prove the efficiency of the youth and make a decision about retaining them or not. Our goal this year is to reach an 80 percent retention rate of the young people by employers,” said Santiago-Pagán.
Laboy-Rivera said the program provides job opportunities in a number of areas, but the government’s public policy is to place participants in sectors with high demand, such as health, science, technology and innovative industries, to increase job retention.
“We’re confident that this and other initiatives that are carried out throughout Puerto Rico, such as ‘Clubs Jovem,’ ‘From School to Business,’ ‘Law 135 for Young Entrepreneurs,’ and ‘Cinemprende,’ among others, reach all young people who need our support and services to succeed. We want to remain positive despite the current needs, and that they believe in the value and unique capabilities that each has,” Laboy-Rivera said.