Central Florida company creates bilingual job board for Puerto Rican evacuees


  • Monivette Cordeiro
A Central Florida company has created a bilingual online job board to help find work for the thousands of Puerto Rican evacuees who are making their way to the state after fleeing deplorable conditions left in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

LatinoJobsOnline.com has job postings in both English and Spanish in places like Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa and even outside Florida. Unlike other leading job search websites, posting translations are readily accessible for non-English speakers.

The job board was started by Robert Newland, a local businessman who owns the Lake Mary-based international talent management organization Newland Associates Group, Inc.

Newland, who is Puerto Rican, moved to Florida 14 years ago to expand his business. Many of his family and friends on the U.S. territory are struggling to recuperate in the aftermath of Maria. Aside from not having electricity or access to potable water, people on the island can't work because their employers have shut down. Newland says his cousin suddenly lost his job as a hotel manager because it will take months to rebuild the hotel. 

"When you go to the Orlando airport, you'll see some of the people who are coming are elderly or have chronic medical issues, but the majority are educated, experienced people who were gainfully employed," he says. "With low unemployment in Florida and a pool of talent coming, it's a blessing for us. I'm sure many will want to go back to Puerto Rico when the economy turns around, but others want to stay here – it's their right and by God, we're going to help them."

Since Oct. 3, more than 195,000 people have arrived in Florida from Puerto Rico through major airports in Tampa, Miami and Orlando, according to the latest update from the Florida Division of Emergency Management. The Puerto Rican exodus has mainly headed toward the metro Orlando area to stay with established family and friends, but that can only last for so long. The lack of affordable housing in Central Florida has made it hard for evacuees to find their own place to stay, though it does appear many are having an easier time finding local jobs.

"They want to work – they don't want to come here and get handouts," Newland says. "By having a bilingual job port, I think people feel more at home and can focus on the job search not just on the language right off the bat. It's already stressful coming here with no savings, staying with your spouse and kids in one room at your best friend from high school's house. We don't want to make it more stressful."

Newland says his friend Roger Lear, who is a co-founder of OrlandoJobs.com, helped him with choosing a platform for the site, which went live last week. So far, LatinoJobsOnline.com includes postings from Newland Associates Executive Search, Massey Services and AAA The Auto Club Group. Newland says Florida Hospital has also agreed to participate.

Additionally, the site includes links to job postings from ZipRecruiter. Employers can post their job listings on the site for packages ranging from $200 to $1,000. Any revenue made from the website in excess of operational expenses will be donated to the Puerto Rico relief funds of Heart of Florida United Way and the Central Florida Foundation.

"We're not getting a dime," Newland says. "We just felt it was something we could do to help. As a Puerto Rican, but also a resident of Florida, we want to be part of the solution. We're just not in the mood of getting a financial profit from a humanitarian crisis."

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