Workshops offered in Grand Rapids help bosses converse with their Hispanic workers.
January 30, 2005
Via Associated Press
In response to climbing numbers of Spanish-speaking construction workers in western Michigan, a community college will begin offering conversational Spanish workshops for construction site supervisors.
Carmela Zapata, a Spanish language instructor at Grand Rapids Community College, said she plans to teach managers between 70 and 100 Spanish phrases they can use on the job. The class, scheduled to start in February, will teach greetings and specific commands most relevant to construction work, along with Spanish phrases needed to convey employment, medical and safety information to workers, she told the Grand Rapids Press.
"People recognize now that you have to have non-Hispanics who can speak Spanish in your company," said John Doherty, executive vice president of the Western Michigan Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors. "To be bilingual in the construction industry in West Michigan is a real asset."
To get around the language barrier at their firm, managers at Pioneer Construction have tried to pair Spanish-speaking workers with bilingual employees who can help translate job assignments.
About 20 of Pioneer's 250 employees speak only Spanish, and Randy Zandbergen, Pioneer's chief financial officer, believes the company's site supervisors would benefit from language training.
Source: The Detroit News