This summer, the Kroger Co. completed its first round of English classes offered to its employees in the Houston area. Through Skills and Opportunity for the New American Workforce, a contextualized English language training for the retail sector, these courses reached over 200 Kroger employees, and helped them gain increased access to career pathways. This year, the initiative has piloted this training with two additional major grocers: Publix in Miami, and Whole Foods in the New York City metro area. In Houston, the Forum partnered with Lone Star College and Neighborhood Centers, Inc., to bring free English instruction to Kroger employees, both at the work site and on college campuses.
Gladys Ramirez, originally from El Salvador, is a baker in one of Kroger stores in Northwest Houston. She’s been with Kroger for 12 years, and was thrilled to receive the opportunity to study English at Lone Star College. Gladys hoped to improve her English language skills and better her job performance. “I feel that I’ll learn. My dream is to learn English to help my kids and my customers,” she said.
Mark Yorke, Gladys’s instructor, acknowledged the impact of the program.
“This program is helping a lot of women and some men. They are bakers, baggers, deli clerks and shopping cart crew workers and come to class after being on their feet all day. They are very enthusiastic and want to improve their prospects. It is because of initiatives like this our students have this amazing opportunity.”
Photo: Instructor Mark Yorke and some of his Kroger students stand outside of classroom at Lone Star College.
For more student profiles and testimonials on Skills and Opportunity for the New American Workforce, please click here.
Skills and Opportunity for the New American Workforce is a project of the National Immigration Forum, funded by the Walmart Foundation, in partnership with Miami Dade College and the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education.