Miami Dade College is helping retail workers improve their English language skills with funding from the “Skills and Opportunity for the New American Workforce,” a partnership between the College, the National Immigration Forum, the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education and the Walmart Foundation. “Through education programs that focus on the development of tangible skill sets, we have an opportunity to set retail workers on a clear road to advancement,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Walmart Foundation and chief sustainability officer at Walmart. In Florida, more than 200 retail front-line workers from Publix in Miami were matched with MDC for English language instruction. According to the Brookings Institution, 1 in 10 working-age adults in the United States have limited English language skills, including approximately 1.5 million retail workers. Yenisei Rodriguez, a cashier at Publix Sabor in Hialeah, was part of the pilot class offered by MDC. A native of Cuba who speaks English as her second language, Rodriguez said she was promoted at her job after finishing the three-month course due to her improved English language ability. “This program helped me improve my pronunciation and communication with my customers and colleagues,” she said. “These skills are important for growing within the company.” Gilberto Velazco Brea, a baker at Publix Sabor, said his increased English skills helped him obtain a full-time posiiton after years of part-time work. “Learning English means I can get a better job, increase my pay and make my life and my family’s life better,” he said. – AP
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