Training Immigrants in the Culture and Language of the Workplace – Part 3: Overcoming Challenges to Build Strategies for Success

This blog post was originally published here. 

In this final installment of our three-part blog series on the American Culture and Language Institute’s Part-Time ESL Career Readiness program, we focus on some of the challenges faced by international and immigrant students and how ACLI’s staff helps them overcome barriers and navigate a clear path to employment.

 Challenges Faced

The largest challenge facing international and immigrant students is the fact that ACLI is a self-funded program, funded through student tuition. These students cannot use Pell Grants or other financial aid to pay for ACLI ESL classes. In an effort to remain affordable, ACLI has kept tuition increases to a minimum and remains competitive with other community college-based ESL programs. However, if NOVA could secure grant funding for ESL students—which it seeks occasionally—it would improve student outcomes by allowing the continuation of their studies.

A secondary challenge facing international and resident students at NOVA is the perceived duplication of ESL programs at the college. While ACLI acts as a feeder program into College ESL, a lack of sequential-level identification across both programs often confuses prospective students. NOVA has expedited the transition between the two programs through the use of a Bridge Writing Exam. ACLI also implemented a college-wide placement test of writing, speaking, and listening, and college-wide objective statements for each ACLI level.

Strategies for Success: Why It Works

Staffing: NOVA has created a new centralized staff position—ESL & TESOL Program Developer and Instructional Designer Cynthia Hatch—to evaluate and lead the Career Readiness redesign of ACLI ESL programs across five campuses. Hatch is also responsible for leading a college-wide curriculum review team.

Assessment: ACLI staff conducts thorough needs assessments via pre- and post-tests. They conduct a post-program assessment involving all stakeholders, such as students, instructors, and contract employers.

Professional Development: NOVA provides its ACLI instructors with ongoing professional development via annual Teacher Appreciation Days—mini-conferences with teacher trainers from NOVA Workforce’s TESOL Certificate Program, instructors, and guest speakers.

Partnerships: Internal partnerships across NOVA’s campuses are critical to ACLI’s success, and there are several efforts to improve the transition of ACLI students into college-level programs. Staff in the for-credit College ESL program help ACLI students advance by evaluating exit-level Intensive English Program students’ readiness to enter the College ESL program, via the Accuplacer Exam and a Bridge Writing Exam. NOVA Workforce’s Student Success Advisors provide career and college advising for ACLI students interested in pursuing credit or noncredit workforce credential programs.

Finally, also critical to ACLI’s success is the number of external partners—such as local literacy councils, public schools, and nonprofit organizations—that regularly refer ESL students to ACLI to continue to study English or enter College ESL. International entities such as the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission and universities in Turkey and Brazil have provided funding for student scholarships and faculty professional development.

Steven B. Partridge, NOVA Workforce vice president, noted, The life cycle of educational programs is getting shorter; therefore educational institutions must constantly redesign our offerings to meet the needs of today’s diverse workforce. To ensure we develop the skills demanded by employers, we must be intentional in creating meaningful training for students and employers, while also ensuring any training we offer is both stackable and has a clear path to real-world employment opportunities. With NOVA Workforce’s Career Readiness program, for the first time, English-language learners can transition from contextualized ESL instruction to Workforce Credentials programs, thereby providing students with a pathway to earn credentials in Northern Virginia’s high-demand sectors.”

This is the final installment of a three-part series on training immigrants in the culture and language of the workplace. The full case study on how Northern Virginia Community College supports immigrant and international students through its American Culture and Language Institute can be found here.

Please share your comments @CCCIE or success stories in a short paragraph description on Facebook. Let us know why it was a success. Does your college have successful business models to build career pathways for immigrant students to transition them from ESL to the workplace? What is the role of employer partnerships to make this transition a success? We’d like to hear from you!

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Student Spotlight: Olympew Jordan

Click on the image to enlarge:

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Education and Career Support at Cornerstones

NOVA workforce career counselor, Jennifer Merrill, is leading an information session at Cornerstones to provide customized career insight and support.

Cornerstones is a nonprofit organization that assists clients in gaining self-sufficiency. Cornerstones provides resources including food, shelter, housing, childcare, and other services.

Various clients of the Cornerstones programs will take part in the career session, as an initial step in going to school for a certification or Associate degree at NOVA. Jennifer will help each client understand how to enroll in classes at NOVA, how to apply for financial aid, and receive any other support the clients may need.

The clients will have the opportunity to develop their future career paths and educational goals at the session. Jennifer will offer insight on credit courses, noncredit courses, and the variety of opportunities available at NOVA.

NOVA Workforce is continually looking for ways to support the community through events like this information session at Cornerstones. Career counselors are available for customized support and guidance. For more information, please contact novaworkforce@nvcc.edu.

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Training Immigrants in the Culture and Language of the Workplace – Part 2: Using Data to Design Programs for Immigrant Student Achievement

The blog post was originally published here. 

 

The staff at NOVA’s American Culture and Language Institute accelerated the use of data in the redesign of its Part-Time ESL Career Readiness program, which offers workforce-contextualized English classes for students at high-beginning through intermediate ESL levels and helps them successfully transition to further college and careers.

ACLI staff and administrators use the results of regularly administered student surveys to evaluate program outcomes and guide any program changes. This included the evaluation and redesign of the Career Readiness Program in 2017, which now includes pathways between part-time ESL and workforce credential programs.

A key data point that influenced the redesign came from survey questions asking students about their current employment and their desired future employment. Survey results in both fall 2016 and spring 2017 showed a distinct trend for students currently employed in low-paying jobs (e.g., childcare, food service) wanting to move into high-paying, high-demand jobs (e.g., IT, healthcare, business).

Cynthia Hatch, the ESL & TESOL Program Developer and Instructional Designer for ACLI, said that, after reviewing the survey data and in response to employer needs, it was clear “there was a definite pathway from our ESL programs into our workforce programs. It’s incumbent upon us to capitalize on that interest and help students get where they want to go.”

Figure 1 above illustrates the multiple entry and exit points for ACLI students in the redesigned Part-Time Program. Each of the five levels takes approximately 100 hours to complete during an academic year. Students may take Part-Time ESL classes at any of five different skill levels (low-beginning to intermediate) and either continue to College ESL or shift into Career Readiness classes (starting at the high-beginning level, i.e., level 3), which lead to Workforce Credentials courses in education, IT, healthcare, and business/management.

Subject matter experts from NOVA’s Workforce Credentials program–-a state grant program for Virginia residents in industry-specific certification courses–-will interact with ESL students through guest lectures, interviews, and noncredit Workforce Credentials classes. Career Readiness classes provide a “reality check” so that students can be confident about their eventual Workforce Credentials choices.

Optional Support ESL classes such as grammar, pronunciation, and a learning lab provide supplementary “soft skill” instruction to promote students’ persistence and prepare them for the workforce. These support ESL classes for ACLI students usually begin two weeks after the Part-Time ESL and Career Readiness classes, and last for eight weeks. Support ESL classes take 20 hours to complete.

 

Next in this blog series: Overcoming Challenges to Build Strategies for Success

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Please share your comments @CCCIE or success stories in a short paragraph description on Facebook. Let us know why it was a success. How does your college use data to drive immigrant student achievement? How does the data inform your college about the needs of immigrant students in their transition from ESL to the workplace? We’d like to hear from you! 

 

For more information, contact:

Keila Louzada, ESL Program Coordinator, NOVA Workforce, Northern Virginia Community College, klouzada@nvcc.edu

Cynthia Hatch, ESL & TESOL Program Developer and Instructional Designer, NOVA Workforce, Northern Virginia Community College, chatch@nvcc.edu

Jill Casner-Lotto, Director, Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education, jill.casnerlotto@sunywcc.edu

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NOVA Workforce Partners with Fairfax County Schools to Provide Career Awareness Resources for Teachers

Choosing a career path at any age is a difficult task. But selecting a career path as a high school student—without a full understanding of the career pathways available—can be an even more daunting task.

Fairfax County high schools are implementing training to provide teachers with resources to help students make more informed career decisions. By developing a greater awareness of potential career paths, students have the opportunity to pursue an educational and career pathway that will aid their success.

With the support of the Bank of America Foundation, NOVA Workforce recently participated in career awareness training at Mount Vernon High School. The primary goal of the training was to provide educators with resources to help students expand their awareness of potential careers by connecting class curriculum with the world of work. Students benefit from a broader awareness of potential career paths, beyond the well-known careers (e.g. lawyer, doctor, teacher) to more specific career pathways that are not as well-known (e.g. marketing, data analytics, social media management, etc.).

Alex Cooley, Labor Market Analyst for NOVA Workforce, led a portion of the training. He met with teachers and staff at Mount Vernon High School to provide data-driven resources for career awareness. Alex shared information about labor market data that can assist students in making informed career decisions. The training also included information on the importance of career awareness, work-based learning opportunities for high school students in Fairfax County, and a group discussion on innovative ways teachers can engage students in exploring career interests.

In an effort to promote career readiness and awareness for students, Mount Vernon High School will also be opening a new career center in 2018. The new career center was made possible by a generous contribution from the Bank of America Foundation.

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NVTC Titans Event: Deep Learning

Members of the NOVA Workforce team attended an event on deep learning hosted by the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) on January 31.
The event, titled “Deep Learning: Promise and Pitfalls,” was part of NVTC’s Titans event series. The event consisted of two panelists, Melvin Greer, Chief Data Scientist at Intel, and Dr. John Kaufhold, Managing Partner and Data Scientist at Deep Learning Analytics, sharing their insight on the topic of deep learning. The panel was moderated by Dr. Ravi Pappu, Chief Architect at In-Q-Tel.
Deep learning is defined as “an artificial intelligence function that imitates the workings of the human brain in processing data and creating patterns for decision making.” As businesses continue to adopt deep learning practices, the panel recommended that organizations begin by identifying a business problem. Then, address that problem with talent, data, frameworks, and hardware.
Organizations face a significant challenge, however, because talent and data are gatekeepers—and qualified, trained talent is lacking. As a result, job candidates with information technology skills are in high demand.
Since the demand for IT talent is so high, there are significant opportunities to develop a successful career in this field. NOVA Workforce offers high-quality training and certificates to equip you with the skills for which employers are searching.
Learn more about NOVA Workforce’s IT training opportunities here.
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NOVA Workforce at the Exploring Intersections Conference

Northern Virginia Community College’s VP of Workforce Development, Steve Partridge, is participating in a panel at the Exploring Intersections Conference, hosted by the American Association of Community College’s Workforce Development Institute.

 

The panel members will be sharing their insight regarding alternatives to apprenticeships. Apprenticeships and alternative work-based learning models address educational and workforce challenges of some employers. Panelists will discuss their experiences with alternative options to apprenticeships for employers who may not find apprenticeships feasible, in an effort to address the needs of regional employers.

 

In addition to Steve, other panelists include Diane Lee of St. Louis Community College, a panelist from Mott Community College, and moderator Eric Seleznow.

 

The conference is taking place this week, January 30th through February 2nd in New Orleans, LA. To see the full schedule of events, click here.

 

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NOVA Workforce’s Vice President Speaks on ACTE Panel

Northern Virginia Community College’s VP of Workforce Development, Steve Partridge, participated in a panel at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) Career Tech VISION 2017 in Nashville.

The panel, titled “From Policy to Practice,” highlighted recent policy changes in each of the panelist’s states. The panel members discussed challenges and best practices of connecting educators with employers, among other workforce development topics.

The panel consisted of high level CTE educators from states that are successfully providing tools and incentives to engage employers and provide better education for students.

Click below to watch the video:

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Training Immigrants in the Culture and Language of the Workplace – Part 1: Designing Impactful ESL Offerings

This article was originally published by the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education. 

When immigrants arrive in the U.S. and look for work, they must learn new culture and workplace norms. Many also need assistance with their language skills. Northern Virginia Community College’s Office of Workforce Development—known as NOVA Workforce—supports these students, as well as international students, through its American Culture and Language Institute (ACLI).  In the next three blog posts, we’ll describe ACLI’s programs, including its most recent ESL Career Readiness program; how ACLU is using data to redesign and improve the Career Readiness program; and ACLI’s current challenges and key strategies for success.

Part 1: Designing Impactful ESL Offerings at Northern Virginia Community College

In an effort to better serve the educational and career needs of NOVA’s immigrant students, ACLI is implementing a new Part-Time English as a Second Language (ESL) Program called Career Readiness, which will offer workforce-contextualized English classes for students at high-beginning through intermediate ESL levels. Subject matter experts from NOVA’s Workforce Credentials program—a state grant program for Virginia residents in industry-specific certification courses—will interact with ESL students through guest lectures, interviews, and noncredit Workforce Credentials classes.

The intent of the new effort is to assist in transitioning Part-Time Program students from contextualized ESL to sector-specific content instruction. Optional Support ESL classes such as grammar, pronunciation, and a learning lab provide supplementary, “soft skill” instruction to promote students’ persistence and prepare them for the workforce.

ACLI also offers tailored workplace training in collaboration with local businesses to develop their employees’ language skills and improve productivity. These services are provided at NOVA campuses and at the workplace. In both the Part-Time ESL and ESL for the Workplace programs, ACLI staff have accelerated the use of data to evaluate, redesign, and tailor curriculum to improve training and target student and employer needs more effectively.

Program Description and Background

ACLI evolved out of noncredit ESL programs that Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) established in the mid-1980s. These programs were operated independently at different campuses until 2009, when the college established a task force to coordinate all ESL programs and create a core set of noncredit courses to be taught on five NOVA campuses.

ACLI comprises an Intensive English Program and a Part-Time Program that provide instruction in the four language skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening). ACLI also offers specialty courses in test preparation and current events for higher-level students. The Intensive English Program prepares local immigrant residents (long-time and recent arrivals) and international students for college-level classes and associate degrees. The Part-Time Program prepares local students for future careers and improves their social skills in English.

ACLI has served more than 32,000 students since 2009. The average ACLI student spends two semesters in the program. As of spring 2017, the majority of ACLI’s 1,274 students were local residents who emigrated from more than 75 countries. International F-1 visa students represented 27 percent of ACLI participants. Approximately 41 percent of ACLI students are enrolled full-time and are high school graduates seeking associate degrees from NOVA. The other 59 percent are enrolled part-time and are seeking to improve their workplace English skills or enter workforce credential programs.

Key Goals 

ACLI strives to increase educational and career opportunities for its immigrant and international students in several ways:

  • Prepare students for successful transition into an associate degree or a workforce credential program
  • Develop students’ workforce and communication skills to become productive community members
  • Prepare students to move from lower- to higher-paying jobs

 

Please share your comments @CCCIE or success stories in a short paragraph description on Facebook. Let us know why it was a success. Is your college training immigrants in the culture and language of the workplace? How does your college provide immigrant students pathways from part-time ESL to workforce credentials? We’d like to hear from you! 

Next in this blog series: Using Data to Design Programs for Immigrant Student Achievement

For more information, contact:

Keila Louzada, ESL Program Coordinator, NOVA Workforce, Northern Virginia Community College, klouzada@nvcc.edu

Cynthia Hatch, ESL & TESOL Program Developer and Instructional Designer, NOVA Workforce, Northern Virginia Community College, chatch@nvcc.edu

Jill Casner-Lotto, Director, Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education, jill.casnerlotto@sunywcc.edu

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Apply Today to Our New Veterinary Assistant Program!

 

Do you love animals? Do you have a passion for health and promoting well-being? Then consider pursuing NOVA Workforce’s latest offering: the Veterinary Assistant Program!

NOVA’s brand new Veterinary Assistant program prepares students to assist and support licensed veterinary technicians and veterinarians in the health and handling of small domestic animals and exotic species.

Earn valuable industry stackable credentials and become a designated Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA)! NOVA is one of 18 community colleges in the United States that has received approval through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA).

Upon successful completion of this course, students will sit for the AVA National Exam administered by National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA).

In the Veterinary Assistant Program, you’ll learn:

  • Communication and client relations
  • Pharmacology
  • Small animal nursing
  • Examination room procedures
  • Surgical preparation and assisting
  • Laboratory procedures
  • Radiology

 

The program is 150 hours of didactic and hands-on learning and 100 hours of clinical experience. Clinical hours and dates will be discussed in class.

NOVA Workforce also offers an additional certification during this course: Fear Free Practitioner Certification. Books, Fear Free Training, and NAVTA Exam fee are included in tuition.

To learn more about the program and application, click here: Apply Today!

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