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Training Program Helps Louisville Immigrants In Manufacturing

Essaid Benzzi
Essaid Benzzi

There can be plenty of roadblocks when planning the next step in a career. But for some of Louisville’s immigrants, there’s an added barrier of language access.

Manufacturing Training for English Language Learners, or M-TELL, is a free three-week training course that aims to help the city’s immigrants overcome barriers, and get into managerial roles in manufacturing.

About a dozen immigrants from countries including Ecuador, Togo, Liberia and Haiti attended an M-TELL graduation ceremony Friday morning at the Kentucky Manufacturing Career Center. 

The curriculum includes learning English terms in manufacturing and safety. That was important for 25-year-old graduate Daniel Ngendahayo. The language aspect was important, but so was the certificate itself to prove to potential employers that he can do things like operate a forklift.

“This is something that is widening the scope of the opportunities that I would be able to get,” he said. The connection to instructors and future employers is also significant for him.

This was the second M-TELL class to graduate. The pilot course was in April and graduated 14 students.

Essaid Benzzi (pictured top right), from Morocco, has lived in Louisville for one year and graduated from the first class. He had training in the HVAC industry in Morocco and learned about M-TELL from English classes at the Americana Community Center. He said he hopes to advance in his career in his new home.

For Laurendy Summerville, from Liberia, the three-week course wasn’t so much about language access. She took the course as a jumping off point to transition into manufacturing.

“Because I want to grow into it, so it’s just an entry level for me with this certificate,” she said.

The certificate program is a collaboration between Louisville Metro's KentuckianaWorks and the Office of Globalization. The next class will be in March 2018.

Roxanne Scott covers education for WFPL News.