Cape Cod Chamber and Puerto Rico Partner for Seasonal Worker Job Fair

CCB MEDIA PHOTO
The sign at the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce welcomes visitors.

HYANNIS – With growing uncertainty when it comes to visa workers for the summer tourist season, the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce is turning to Puerto Rico to fill available jobs.

The chamber has partnered with the Puerto Rico Office of Travel & Tourism to host a job fair for local employers in San Juan later this month.

“[Puerto Rico is] extremely receptive to trying to work out some sort of seasonal workforce job sharing program so that is what we are in pursuit of right now,” said Wendy Northcross, the CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce.

The job fair will see employers on Cape Cod travel to San Juan to talk with furloughed workers from major resorts who have been out of work since the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria last fall.

Northcross said many of the resorts in San Juan could be closed for up to two years while repairs and renovations can be made.

“Those resorts are very interested in maintaining their employees but they cannot pay them for the next two years,” she said. “We have a dying, crying need for high-season, temporary employees here.”

Northcross said the goal of the partnership is to build a relationship which benefit all sides as the peak seasons for both the Cape and Puerto Rico are at different times of the year.

“People can come to Cape Cod and earn a nice living in the summer. Go back to Puerto Rico earn a nice living in the winter,” Northcross said. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”

Discussions focused on just seasonal employment as the chamber did not want Puerto Rican tourism officials to think they were trying to poach the island’s hospitality workforce.

“We are making sure that what we are going to offer right now is seasonal employment only and with the hope that we build this trust that it will work for every season going forward,” she said.

Getting workers to the Cape and Islands from Puerto Rico is also easier for employers as it is a U.S. territory and travel and work visas are not required.

As of Monday, Northcross said she had already heard from a dozen interested employers with more than 140 positions immediately available.

“That is without even really beating the bushes to see who else might have that need,” Northcross said.

Cape employers interested in participating should contact Northcross by emailing wendy@capecodchamber.org with positions being offered, wages, housing availability and other benefits.

“They would need someone on staff to travel to San Juan,” Northcross said. “We’ll help with the accomodations on the island and we’ll help with logistics here but you have to be willing to go.”

Northcross said she needs employer information as soon as possible.

A date for the job fair has not yet been set but it will be later this month, but not during school vacation week.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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