Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training


Labor and Training to Launch Combined ESL and Occupational Training Programs

March 19, 2009

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training is recruiting adult job seekers with limited English-speaking skills to enroll in one of five training programs to speed their return to employment. Called “contextualized training,” these programs combine occupational skills training with English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction. Partners in training include Rhode Island College; Federal Hill House and the Community College of Rhode Island; and Progreso Latino and New England Institute of Technology,

“Limited English language skills can serve as a barrier not only for employment but also for training,” says Sandra M. Powell, director of the RI Department of Labor and Training. “Traditionally, job seekers with language barriers are asked to complete ESL instruction before they enroll in occupational training programs; this sequence can greatly extend the time a job seeker is without employment.”

“In the current economy, many job seekers cannot afford to enroll in stand-alone ESL classes,” Powell says. “Contextualized training offers occupational skills and language training simultaneously, thereby speeding up the time it takes a job seeker to become ‘work ready.’”  Powell also states that the idea for using contextualized training in Rhode Island came from conversations with the business and adult education communities.

Scheduled to begin later this spring, the five contextualized training programs offered include a composite boat building program offered through Progreso Latino and the New England Institute of Technology; a culinary program offered through Federal Hill House and the Community College of Rhode Island; and bookkeeping/accounting, medical assistant and insurance technician training programs offered through Rhode Island College. Most programs include work experience or internship components to help students successfully transition to employment.

To be eligible for the program, candidates must meet the definition of adult dislocated worker, having been terminated or laid off through no fault of their own. Candidates can also include displaced homemakers and self-employed workers adversely affected by current economic conditions. All candidates must complete Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Services (CASAS) testing to determine their skill levels in reading, listening and mathematics. Additional criteria for enrollment may vary among programs.

Currently, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training has allocated of nearly $475,000 to these contextualized training programs. Funding comes from both the state Job Development Fund and the federal Trade Adjustment Act.

Those interested in enrolling in the program should contact the manager at their nearest netWORKri One-Stop Career Center:

  • Providence netWORKri: 462-8932
  • Pawtucket netWORKri: 722-3100 ext. 141
  • West Warwick netWORKri: 828-8993


About the RI Department of Labor and Training
The RI Department of Labor and Training offers employment services, educational services and economic opportunity to both individuals and employers. DLT protects Rhode Island’s workforce by enforcing labor laws, prevailing wage rates and workplace health and safety standards. The department also provides temporary income support to unemployed and temporarily disabled workers. For more information on the programs and services available to all Rhode Islanders, please call the RI Department of Labor and Training at (401) 462-8000 or visit the web site at www.dlt.ri.gov