Op-Ed: A hidden treasure of talent for our workforce
I firmly believe that if entrepreneurs don’t rescue and use the huge amount of potential talent we have in our extremely high school dropout statistics, not only are we doomed to waste valuable resources, but we will also pay a huge social price. In fact, as a society, we are already paying for this waste.
When I founded Pharma Consulting Corp. (PCC) I bet on the idea of bringing in and working with youngsters who had abandoned school and found no meaning or purpose in anything around them. In Puerto Rico we have no coherent strategies to keep thousands of them them in a classroom, and we are a less efficient and healthy society because of it.
When he was designated to his position, the current Secretary of Education, Rafael Román, said in public hearings that the incidence of school dropouts in Puerto Rico was around 40 percent. This is just unacceptable. This means that almost half of the young people that are supposed to leave the public system prepared for a productive life and to contribute to the economy of Puerto Rico, end up on the street, without skills to help them earn an honest living. Clearly, many end up into some kind of criminal activity or deeply dependent on the welfare system.
Sometimes when we are faced with such enormous problems that seem overwhelming, you have to concentrate on what one individually can do, and hope that the power of one idea spreads.
What we do in Pharma is simple: our company recruits these youngsters and teach them to focus on learning skills. We train, inspire and guide them until they become excellent professionals. The huge social commitment of our consultants is key for the progress in their lives and the results we see are extraordinary.
This PCC program has been so successful that multinational companies request our services and specifically comment on the for the passion and dedication shown by our staff.
I must emphasize that my goal with this program is not to keep them in PCC forever: instead we strive to show them the world of possibilities that exists out there with work discipline, and let them keep making progress, ensuring a worthy future with the tools to earn a living.
These young people, who otherwise would lack a north or purpose in life, take the PCC security trainings and learn about customer service. They start with simple tasks, such as receiving wagons in projects and distributing the merchandise in the projects. Eventually, with the help of supervisors, they learn to read project plans and to install equipments in complex projects. Once finalized, the project manager inspects and guarantees that everything is perfect according to the engineering drawings.
PCC is a local multidisciplinary company that marked his 13 years in the market recently expanding its services to Latin and Central America. Our job is to validate and ensure that our clients, regulated by the FDA, avoid irregularities that could compromise the quality of pharmaceutical products or hospital and lab procedures.
At the end of each project, when we sign satisfaction agreements with our customers, we know that the hands of these young people, who had no dreams, are an essential part of every success.
The recruitment process was less complex than I thought. Today, when I need new employees for these tasks they spread the word in their communities and among their peers, and bring us candidates for interviews. The program has become so popular, and necessary, that many referrals also come through our contractors.
For me, this has been an enriching experience both professionally and personally. As a woman, I know what entails to make your way as an entrepreneur in Puerto Rico. But I made it, and then made it my business to help open doors for others.
We live moments of historical challenges in Puerto Rico and we cannot allow our companies to live in a bubble and just work without looking outside and face the enormous needs we have as a society. We need to do more. We need to strengthen and enlarge our workforce urgently, and these young people have potential that should not waste. They have talent. They have the desire to succeed. They just need someone to show them the door of possibilities.