Grand Rapids, MI, September 27, 2007 --(PR.com
)-- Local packaging design and manufacturer Display Pack Inc. (http://www.displaypack.com) has partnered with Kent County Literacy Council (KCLC) to offer Customized Workplace English (CWE) to its employees. More than 40 employees have voluntarily signed up for this program, making it one of the largest English programs KCLC has launched to date. As of September 2007, Display Pack is KCLC’s only client providing five classes at four levels of English language proficiency, accommodating employees on three shifts.
U.S. Census Bureau projects a 56 percent increase in Asian and a 43 percent increase in Hispanic populations within Kent County by 2010. At Display Pack, nearly 25 percent of employees speak English as a second language. This language barrier can inhibit employee safety and affect company profitability.
"When we speak a common language, supervisors can offer better training, employees are safer on the job and the quality of work increases," said David Plantenga, director of manufacturing.
The company offers five classes for beginning, intermediate and advanced English-speaking employees. Classes are offered at the end of a shift - 42 customized lessons over a 24-week period. Most of the employees are Hispanic, but also include Vietnamese, African and one from Eastern Europe.
Language training is centered around terms and concepts specific to Display Pack’s manufacturing philosophy and corporate training programs. At the supervisor’s recommendation, employees are taught tasks such as completing safety reports and other paperwork used on the job - all in English.
"Customized English classes give our employees the opportunity to focus on quality, safety and productivity issues, as well the company’s mission and values," said Jim Woodcock, director of strategic initiatives.
Instructors, who hold Masters in English as a Second Language or related field, are trained by KCLC and teach only in English.
"Students are active in their learning through study and conversation during class time," said Kristin Ekkens, CWE director for KCLC. "Through immersion, their ability to speak English improves and their confidence level goes up, and they are eager to use their language skills on the job."
The program is funded by Display Pack, along with grants from Workforce Investment Act funds through Area Community Services Employment and Training Council (ACSET), Michigan Works! Agency, and the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth (MDLEG).