Next month’s North Central Career Centers job fair is truly something novel: the agency will try to connect Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria — and now living in the area — with local employers.
Event organizer Beth Goguen said the goal is to get people back on their feet with jobs before their relief support from organizations like the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency or the Federal Emergency Management Agency run out later this year.
“Many came here and had to get their basic necessities figured out first, particularly with their children and getting them enrolled in school. It was like they weren’t ready for us then, but now they are,” she said.
The job fair, held in partnership with Centro, Inc., will be held Tuesday, June 5 in Fitchburg. It is limited to evacuees from Puerto Rico living in the area. Thus far, 13 employers have signed up and will be looking to fill a combined total of 30 to 50 jobs, organizer Scott Perciful said.
Job opportunities will range from part-time, full-time, permanent, and temporary positions, and span a variety of industries like healthcare, manufacturing, and communications.
“We had to be very selective in picking. We very carefully picked the ones locally that would have more of an aptitude to hire someone with a language barrier,” he said.
As Perciful and Goguen explained, one of the biggest obstacles for Puerto Rican evacuees in the months, since they’ve moved to the area, has been not being confidently fluent in English. Many of the positions being advertised at next month’s job fair will be in work environments that have a Spanish-speaking staff or need fluent Spanish speakers.
In the months leading up to the job fair, the career center has sought to tackle the language issue by partnering with Mount Wachusett Community College to offer free, intensive English language courses, as well as occupational training classes.
Spanish-speaking representatives of the Montachusett Regional Transit Authority will also be on-hand to help job fair attendees plan public transit routes to their new jobs.
The June 5 event is free and requires no prior registration from job-seekers. It runs from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Fitchburg offices of Centro, Inc., located at 437 Main St.