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Hospitality workers in Orange County can get English language education for free

Immigration Denver
Thomas Peipert/AP
/
AP
A migrant worker studies English at a shelter in Denver. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)

Orange County has teamed up with UCF Global and Rosen Hotels & Resorts to offer English as a Second Language instruction to hotel workers on I-Drive.

The pilot program provides twice weekly English instruction to about 65 Rosen Hotels & Resorts employees.

Rosen provides the space for classes and pays employees to participate.

Orange County’s Renuka Sastri said the program is a win-win for employers and employees. Employers guarantee workers can easily communicate with guests. And workers gain a new skillset and possibly a promotion.

“The majority of them have said they want access to better work opportunities to have access to interact better within the community, to participate in what their children are learning," said Sastri. "There's a whole range, but really the number one reason was access to better work opportunities.”

Sastri said the design of the program makes it easier for students to complete the full course load in just three quick semesters.

“And they’re right there, they're already at work," said Sastri. "So, transportation, childcare, and the conflict with the work schedule, which are three of the big barriers that we've heard of, are sort of removed upfront.” 

About half of the students who have participated in the pilot program are of Haitian descent and have lived in the Central Florida area for about eight years.

The county will analyze data from the pilot with plans to expand it this summer to other business partners on I-Drive.

To learn more about the program, or to get involved, click here.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, Michigan and is a graduate of both the University of Michigan and Northwestern University. In her free time, she enjoys playing her guitar, writing fiction, and cooking.
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