Fall 2018 – Bridging the Gap: Learning English for Workforce Preparedness

The Northern Virginia area is a bustling economic landscape, filled with opportunities for workers of all skill sets and specialties. Still, the competitive nature of Northern Virginia’s job market means that more and more workers need to advance their skills to enter the workforce or move forward in their careers. Though there are professional development options for many industries and professional levels, workers who do not have a mastery of English can find that these courses are too advanced for their language ability. Luckily, LCNV has developed several options for these employees who have the skills and capacity needed to advance in their careers, but lack the English to take the next step.

LCNV’s Destination Workforce® program delivers language-based workforce training to English language learners (ELLs) at the lowest literacy levels. This training is custom-designed to be the most appropriate for each job sector. For example, LCNV has been invited to return to BF Saul’s DoubleTree by Hilton Tysons Corner to deliver hospitality-focused English language training, tailored to BF Saul’s ideal guest experience. This would mark the second LCNV course in this location, with the first focusing on beginning-level learners, and the new course designed for intermediate level learners. Also under the Destination Workforce® banner is LCNV’s class with the City of Alexandria’s Workforce Development Center, which focuses on a broad variety of customer service-oriented job skills for low-skilled refugees new to the United States. Both of these courses work to bridge the gap between beginning-level English classes and intermediate job training.

Another successful iteration of Destination Workforce® can be seen in LCNV’s English for Work courses with the Korean Community Service Center of Greater Washington (KCSC). Working with KCSC, LCNV designed a course for intermediate-level English language learners and job seekers who need English language and professional soft skills for the workplace. This course integrates mock interviews with industry professionals to give participants the opportunity to hone their English in a job interview setting. This partnership will continue in the coming fall semester, helping more participants attain jobs in which they can thrive. The class has already been a runaway success, with several participants getting jobs and advancing within the hospitality industry! LCNV’s other English for Work course occurs with the Centreville Immigration Forum (CIF), providing work-related English classes for beginning-level ELLs. Through this instruction, day laborers learn to communicate more effectively with their clients, giving them the ability to understand projects, negotiate rates, make requests of their employers, and reach out to potential customers.

LCNV’s CIF program also provides the opportunity for participants to attain a Guest Service Gold® credential, a nationally recognized industry certification in which recipients learn valuable customer service skills. Guest Service Gold® credentialing is also available at LCNV’s campus-based English for Work class at the James Lee Community Center and at the Herndon Neighborhood Resource Center. Guest Service Gold® and similar credentials in other industries are often available through highly intensive English-based two day trainings that end with an exam. Some are even offered in Spanish, though LCNV hears from many employers that great value is placed on English proficiency and the ability for workers to interact directly with customers. Therefore, LCNV has designed new courses to make these credentials accessible to beginning-level English language learners – accelerating the marketability and giving them a leg up in the competitive job market.

LCNV will continue working to bridge the gap between beginning level English classes and more advanced workforce training throughout Northern Virginia! For information about bringing Destination Workforce® to your business, contact rafzal@englishempowermentcenter.org.