By John A. Lahtinen
Glastonbury’s Foley Carrier Services, a provider of drug and alcohol testing and other services to help transportation providers remain in compliance with Federal Department of Transportation regulations, has relocated to Hartford’s Colt Building with the specific goal of adding Latino staff.
The move, announced last month, comes at a good time because the most recent figures released by Connecticut labor officials show job growth in the state remains sluggish, even while the unemployment rate has decreased ever so slightly.
While about 300 new jobs were added to the books in November, Connecticut is still seeing many giving up on the job hunt and removing themselves from the labor force altogether. Other older workers are deciding upon retirement rather than pursuing new employment.
Of course, this news affects job-seeking Latinos as much, if not more, than others.
“The job market for the Latino community in our state is very weak and the latest unemployment rate for Latinos in Connecticut is hovering at around 17.7 percent, which is the third highest in the nation,” said Werner Oyanadel, acting executive director of the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission. “Moreover, the number of Latinos holding three jobs quadrupled in recent times.”
In early December, Gov. Dannel Malloy announced that Foley would move its operations to a 17,000-square foot space in the South Armory of Colt Gateway in downtown Hartford. According to Malloy, the move will bring more than 100 jobs to Hartford right away, with plans to add more over the next three years.
“Similar to the trend that was experienced in the recent presidential election, the Latino demographic is emerging in the motor carrier industry,” said Joel Sitak, CEO at BirdDog Solutions, the parent company of Foley Carrier Services. “We estimate that 16 percent of our target market is Latino, up from 13 percent a few years ago and we forecast this trend to continue.”
Sitak said that the Latino workforce is not only important to his business in Hartford, but beyond.
“Our services are sold nationally and in markets like Texas and Southern California,” Sitak said, “servicing customers in the language of their choice is highly desirable.”
“We’re selling a service that keeps motor carriers compliant with complex DOT regulations. If a client’s native language is Spanish and we can service them in their native language, we have a competitive advantage.”
Sitak said a key for Foley will be to build a strong relationship with Hartford’s Latino community right from the start.
“Our new office is on the perimeter of downtown Hartford,” he said. “We specifically chose this location for recruiting purposes and its proximity to public transportation. We have open sales and customer service positions and are looking for bilingual candidates to fill these roles.”
The latest census data indicates that the top sectors ranked on the greatest employment for Latinos in Connecticut are Healthcare, Retail Trade, Manufacturing, Food Services and Administrative.
Oyanadel is troubled by information contained in his agency’s recent Latino Socio Economic study. “The overall workplace climate is not favorable based upon data, which indicated significant percentages of respondents have felt discrimination in the workplace,” he said.
“Discrimination severely limits both the economic and social opportunities available to our community. This is why our agency is committed to conducting educational outreach activities such as our recently conducted 2012 Latino Civil Rights Summit to promote and protect employment rights for everyone in our community.”
Below is a WTNH report on Foley Carrier Services relocation:
Images courtesy Foley Carrier Services