Injection molder G&F Industries Inc. is taking steps to improve communication allowing workers to use company time to learn English that is directly applicable to their jobs.
The Sturbridge, Mass.-based company partnered with Literacy Volunteers of South Central Massachusetts to put together a voluntary program for employees whose native tongues are not English.
``The reason we started this was that we wanted to make sure our employees are as well equipped as possible to achieve success at their jobs for the benefit of themselves and the company,'' said John J. Argitis, a vice president at G&F, in a recent telephone interview.
What's unusual is that the company is bringing the program to its workplace and employees are able to use company time to learn English specific to their jobs.
Three G&F volunteers took an 18-hour training class run by the Literacy Volunteers and were certified. Now, according to Argitis, each volunteer spends about an hour a week with those wanting to learn. The classes are open to all employees.
Each class contains three or four students. Overall, there are 12 students in the program.
Mark Berry, director of operations at G&F, said the program was instituted about two months ago, and ``there's absolutely been an improvement in communication in work-related terms. It was almost immediate.''
Berry said there were many languages being spoken by employees including Mandarin, Spanish and Russian. The focus in the classroom is on English.
When the company first considered setting up a language training program, it planned to set up a program where workers would take courses at a nearby college. However, after talking it over with Vanessa Fors, the coordinator of the Literacy Volunteers program, they decided it might be more effective if employees worked with other employees.
Berry said the training focuses on work and industry-specific items. Worker safety and how to use the company's automated telephone system are two areas that they cover.
``There are two benefits there is an immediate ability to better understand the job and second, they're learning English,'' Berry said.
He said the program is ongoing so new topics can be introduced. G&F plans to give certificates to those who take the course.