Metro North ABE Links Newsletter Spring 2023 | Page 2

Partnering with Metro North ABE helps build employee capacity

Cummins , a manufacturing plant in Fridley , Minnesota , is partnering with Metro North Adult Basic Education ( ABE ) to offer workplace learning to its employees . The goal of the program is to improve the English language and digital literacy skills of its employees , to increase communication and opportunities for advancement within the company .
Cummins approached Metro North ABE to support the English language skill development of some of its employees . The company wanted to give back to its great employees by helping them with general conversational skills in English . This , in turn , could help employees move up within the company .
Kathleen Moriarty , ABE Program Supervisor , responded to the initial request from Christopher Best , Cummins Operations Manager , with a proposal to pilot a ten-week English as a Second or Other Language class on-site for employees . The operations manager identified conversational English as an initial goal of the program , to benefit employees in their daily lives . Leading the on-site class instruction is Janet Van Benthuysen , a Metro North ABE teacher with experience in both manufacturing and teaching English as a Second or Other Language .
“ I understand the working environment where I am teaching ,” said Benthuysen . “ I started my career in manufacturing — starting on the assembly floor , moving to quality control , and then accounting . I understand the challenges that these students are facing .”
In the program ’ s pilot , classes were held between shifts for 10 weeks on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons . This mixed-level class had students with a wide variety of backgrounds and skills . Still , all wanted to improve their English and advance their careers at Cummins .
“ In my class , I had a student who was a level one English speaker to a student who was three credits away from earning his bachelor ’ s degree . The challenge was to create a class that addresses the needs of all students ,” said Benthuysen .
After the 10 weeks , Benthuysen clearly had strong results , with 63.6 % of students increasing one level on a standardized test at the end of the program . But the class created more than just test results , it boosted students ’ confidence in their English language skills and created a stronger work culture where employees formed stronger teams .
Benthuysen said she had 3 leads from Cummins that worked closely with the class . “ There was one student who was always reserved . One day , near the end of the class , one of the leads shared with me , ‘ I have worked with this employee for over a year and never exchanged more than the necessary words with him , now we have full conversations . It ’ s really incredible !’”
The success of the project is attributed to the partnership between Cummins and Metro North ABE , as well as the involvement of leads from the company in the class development and implementation .
“ Not only did Cummins suggest the project , but they worked with me to build the program . Cummins made sure I had screenshots of the computers at each student ’ s workstation to build vocabulary connected to students ’ daily tasks ,” said Benthuysen .
Cummins immediately requested a new proposal to continue the programming throughout the year , with a rotation of digital literacy instruction and English skills instruction .
“ It is refreshing to see an employer invest in the skill development of their employees , not only for their jobs but for their lives outside of work , as well . We are enthused to continue this partnership going forward ,” said Moriarty .
The workplace learning program between Cummins and Metro North ABE is a valuable opportunity for employees to improve their English language and digital literacy skills , as well as advance their careers within the company . The success of the program highlights the importance of partnerships and collaboration in workplace learning and development .
• Yes • No • Maybe
Would you have a better job if you knew more English ?
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Would you be more willing to try a new job if you knew the company also taught English ?
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Would you be more willing to try a new job if you knew other people were learning English as work ?
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