DOL Gives Grants For English-Language Skills Improvement

The Department of Labor Feb. 14 announced it would offer five grants totaling more than $4.9 million to help immigrant workers hone their English language skills in the workplace.

"To succeed in the workplace, workers must know how to communicate in English," Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao said. "These $4.9 million in English skills training grants will help thousands of workers realize the American dream for themselves and their families."

The grants will be used to train approximately 4,400 individuals in California, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York and Texas.

The money will be used to help workers of many different nationalities:

  • In California, San Diego's Imperial Counties Labor Council was awarded $1 million in grant money to increase the workplace literacy of 150 Hispanic workers in the steel and shipbuilding sector of the construction industry.
  • Approximately 200 Somali, Ethiopian, Southeast Asian and Hispanic participants in Minnesota will receive customer service and health care industry training via the $1 million grant from the Career Launch! project.
  • Through a grant of over $800,000 awarded to Nebraska's Metropolitan Community College, approximately 1,389 individuals will receive English language training for careers in the construction, healthcare and transportation industries.
  • A $1 million grant will allow City University of New York Research Foundation to use cutting-edge instructional technologies to train approximately 240 people in skills sought after by New York retail and food employers.
  • In Texas, a $1.1. million grant to SER-Jobs for Progress National Inc. will fund a work-based English skills program in four cities to prepare Hispanic workers for careers in the hospitality industry.

Emily Stover DeRocco, assistant secretary of labor for employment and training, said workers will benefit from these grants as industries are constantly in pursuit of workers taking action to enhance their skills.

"Developing English language skills will enable workers associated with these five projects to compete for sought-after jobs in growing industries," she said.

Earlier this month, OSHA also announced that the agency is seeking to expand outreach to the non-English speaking community so that language barriers aren't an impediment when employers try to communicate with them about health and safety issues in the workplace.

The grants awarded today are the result of a competitive Solicitation for Grant Applications aimed at seeking strategies to address challenges and increase rates of English proficiency and high school graduation. For more on this and other employment and training programs at the Department of Labor, visit

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