May 24, 2016
By Kevin Smith
Uber is looking for a few good men and women — about 12,000, to be exact.
On Tuesday the ride-sharing service unveiled a Work on Demand in ESPANOL program. It’s part of an initiative to recruit 12,000 drivers in inner city neighborhoods throughout Southern California to serve the region’s Latino communities.
Uber hopes to fill those slots over the next 12 months.
The program aims to provide flexible work opportunities for residents who either don’t have a job or wish to supplement their current income, while also giving residents in Latino communities access to reliable transportation.
Uber drivers, referred to by the company as “driver-partners,” work as independent contractors.
Tuesday’s launch was held at the Salesian Boys & Girls Club in Los Angeles. The event drew about 100 people, including representatives from the League of Latin American Cities, Regional Hispanic Chamber and Council of Mexican Federations, among others.
The launch also served as a kind of job fair for prospective Uber drivers.
Francisco Quijivix drives for ride-sharing competitor Lyft, but’s said he’s also hoping to work for Uber.
“A lot of people do this,” the 52-year-old Lawndale resident said. “I’ve been with Lyft for about six months and I love it. It’s great because it’s so flexible. You work, but if you have to do errands or want to spend time with your family, you can do that.”
For some, the money is pretty good.
Beatrice Almaraz, who has been an Uber driver since 2014, said she earns about $1,000 a week.
“I drive about 40 hours a week,” she said. “I usually drive the south Los Angeles area, which is where I live. I hit USC and from there I go to West Hollywood or Santa Monica. And recently I’ve been ending up over in Pico Rivera, Downy and even Carson.”
The Work on Demand in ESPANOL option can be accessed through Uber’s app by entering the code UBERESPANOLLA in the “Promotions” section. It allows riders throughout Southern California to be matched with Spanish-speaking drivers. Drivers also have the option to work in Spanish.
“We serve 1.6 million Angelinos, from Crenshaw to Pacoima and everywhere in between,” Uber spokeswoman Tatiana Winograd said. “We believe Uber can continue to be a flexible work opportunity for people and we’re confident that we’ll reach our goal of 12,000 new drivers.”
Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino, who also attended Tuesday’s launch, is impressed by the program.
“That is economic development at its finest as far as creating jobs in our under-served communities,” he said. “At a time when some parts of our region are struggling with job creation, this gives opportunity for someone who may be working part-time to work for Uber to provide those extra dollars to put food on the table.”
The Labor Department estimates that 20 million Americans are forced to work part-time for “non-economic reasons” like child care or education.
And the Latino community is a prime target for Uber.
There are currently more than 53 million Latinos in the U.S. and they account for nearly 40 percent of California’s population.
Economist Robert Kleinhenz, executive director of research for Beacon Economics, said Work on Demand in ESPANOL is a good move for Uber.
“If one overlooks the Latino population and Spanish-speaking people in a place like Southern California, you are overlooking a huge market opportunity,” he said. “You can also tap into a giant workforce that’s available. It makes a lot of sense.”
A survey from Beneson Strategy Group reveals that 73 percent of Uber drivers prefer to work a job where they can choose their own schedule and be their own boss. Another 27 percent say they would prefer a 9-to-5 job with some benefits and a set salary.
Kleinhenz said the latter group will likely gain more traction as the nation’s economy continues to improve.
“Uber and Lyft came on the scene around the time the economy was really at a low point,” he said. “There were a lot of people who were out of work and it was a great opportunity for people to take advantage of a company like Uber.”
But as traditional job stability improves and wages rise, many who are now working part-time for ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft may not need that extra income, Kleinhenz said.
“It’s probably harder for Uber to find people now than it was a few years ago,” he said.
Source: Los Angeles Daily News