Bob Luz, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, along with the Massachusetts Lodging Association, and state and federal officials, have begun an effort to place experienced hospitality workers from Puerto Rico into the Massachusetts workforce.
Mr. Luz, in an open letter to business owners in the Massachusetts hospitality industry, said the effort has a humanitarian aspect, as well as a business aspect.
“We ask, Why not do this now and benefit from an experienced workforce in the meantime, while lending a helping hand to families unable to help themselves when they need it most?” he said. “The devastation is so complete that much more must be done.”
Although the busy season is six months away, the program could be a win-win for Cape and Islands businesses. Hospitality is the No. 1 industry in Puerto Rico, and there is an abundance of seasoned employees who are available to bolster the shallow labor pool.
“Throughout Massachusetts, we have thousands of jobs unfilled despite our most aggressive recruitment efforts, good wages, and excellent working conditions,” he said. “Why not reach out to these communities and let them know we have jobs and would welcome them to our communities?”
The first step is to accumulate data from employers on how many jobs they need to fill. To that end, he asks employers to fill out a survey, complete a form that best applies to their business, and return it to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce executive Nancy Gardella said the initial response of Island employers has been positive.
“Our available workforce cannot fill the demand,” she said. “I think there’s a number of people that hope to hire American workers, and that would be the case here. They understand American culture, they’re seasoned professionals, and they’re adults, so they’d stay through August.”
Ms. Gardella said the main objective right now is to gauge the number of jobs Massachusetts can offer, and she encourages Vineyard business owners to weigh in on the survey.