UnidosUS Workforce Development Summit in P.R. empowers Latino workers and contributes to local economy

The Summit served as a platform for stakeholders from across local, state, and national levels to discuss issues affecting the Hispanic workforce. 

This year, UnidosUS, the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization, held the 2022 Workforce Development Summit “Crea, Conecta, Cambia” — Create Pipelines, Connect People, Change Practices: Investing in the Latinx Workforce” in San Juan, Puerto Rico from November 2-4 at the Caribe Hilton Hotel. Over these three days, participants gathered with some of the nation’s leading workforce development actors to share best practices, learn from other community-based organizations, intermediaries, employers, and policy leaders, and had some fun celebrating all that the Latinx community contributes to our workforce system and to the nation!  

The Summit was comprised of 16 workshops in English and Spanish as well as plenaries. Our first Plenary, “The Missing Link” addressed systemic barriers to quality careers within the Hispanic community with representatives from all angles of the workforce ecosystem: employers, government agencies, local job readiness training providers, and funding intermediaries.  

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On the second day, the “Abriendo Paso: Building Pathways for Women in Tech” luncheon trailblazing Latina representatives from government, the private sector, and nonprofit programs who spoke about overcoming barriers to access that affect the Latina workforce.  

And on the third and final day, UnidosUS Acting CEO and COO Sonia Perez moderated a panel at the Breakfast of Champions: Creating Strong Partnerships on how employers and community-based organizations can best prepare the workforce.   

The event marked an in-person return for the Workforce Development Summit—last held in 2019—and was the first ever to take place in Puerto Rico. We believe it was a good time to hold this national event in Puerto Rico in light of the economic challenges facing the island, the negative impact that Hurricane Fiona had on the economy, and to show the importance of increasing opportunities for local workers. One of the features of Summit was La Placita market, where local Puerto Rican artisans, vendors and entrepreneurs could sell their products to conference attendees between sessions. Coupled with some cafecito and live music, La Placita was a hit! 

Here’s what some of our La Placita vendors had to say:

“I loved it, the truth is, it has been very profitable. I’ve had a good time.”

Lisbett Brazobán, founder of Polis by Lis, accessories shop are inspired by Latin American culture and social issues started during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have had good feedback and people are very interested in learning about everything that is local business, and they are supporting us a lot.”

Sachira Rodriguez, owner of St. Gria, a Sangria factory and bar. 


Attendees had the opportunity to participate in professional development seminars, learn and share best practices for developing Latino workers, and cultivate professional relationships and expand their networks. “I believe that this activity has marked a very important moment within the labor force of Puerto Rico. It has been a great opportunity for all of us.” said Carmen Cosme, Founder and Executive Director of One Stop Career Center of Puerto Rico, one of two UnidosUS Affiliates on the island and the 2022 UnidosUS Affiliate of the Year. 


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