Students in an ESL and Career Readiness class in New Jersey. Photo credit: Danielle Bailey

URC’s Center for Human Services has offered English as a Second Language (ESL) classes in Cumberland County, New Jersey and surrounding areas for more than 28 years. Adult participants in the ESL/Civics program are individuals with family and work obligations intent on bettering their language skills and adaptation into their communities.

Over the years, the program, funded by the Department of Labor of New Jersey, has required grantees to use teaching methodologies focused on career and college readiness. In the 2018 academic year, new federal rules took effect requiring many ESL-funded programs to integrate ESL with employment training skills.

To meet these new guidelines, CHS implemented a Customer Service Sales Fundamentals (CSSF) component with its intermediate ESL/Civics course. The CSSF program, offered through the National Retail Federation Foundation’s RISE Up initiative offers training and credentials to help entry-level job seekers develop meaningful careers. Students participating in the training receive a certificate of completion upon passing a computer-based exam focused on basic work fundamentals, customer focus, the retail business, getting and keeping jobs in retail, and selling.

The integration of a career readiness component within the ESL/Civics class provides students the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful in the workforce. English language acquisition, coupled with employment skills, has the potential to change lives and CHS is proud to be part of the process.