Tailoring workplace training programs for immigrants
and refugees—with employers' needs in mind
BY HEATHER BOERNER
In 2009, South Texas College (STC) got a grant to start a Jobs for the Future
program. The program targeted the low-income, low-skill workers in
the Rio Grande Valley with less than a high school education.
“They were low skill and low literacy,” says Juan Carlos Aguirre, direc-
tor of STC’s continuing, professional and workforce education. “They just
happened to be 50 percent English-as-a-second-language learners.”
It became clear that, to reach all the workers in the target demo-
graphic, the college was going to have to address the specific workforce
needs of immigrants.
So was born an integrated career pathway program that teaches
English within the context of what the student is interested in: jobs
that will support their families and support the region’s economy.
Indeed, STC is like many others across the country that are making
the connection between a growing immigrant and refugee population
and the skills gaps in their regions. And they, too, are adapting, funding workforce development programs for immigrants and refugees.