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College expands English language training to four regional sites in Manitoba

February 2, 2018

RRC Language Training CentreOver the last year, Red River College has opened four new Language Training Centres (LTCs) throughout Manitoba, providing access to critical language skills programming for an additional 250 students.

The College’s LTC in Winnipeg, which already trains more than 1,000 newcomers every year, has recently expanded programming to Arborg, Steinbach, Thompson and Selkirk. The five-month programs are provided at no charge to students, with costs covered by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

The LTC s offer English Language Learning programs as well as English for Specific Purposes programs. The former focuses on competency-based programs for students developing language proficiency for further education, employment, or settlement and daily life, while the latter focuses on learning English in a way that will further training opportunities, or employment in a specific job market.

“We are proud that more than 60 per cent of our English as a Second Language and English for a Specific Purpose programs are linked to employment outcomes,” says Kerri Caldwell Korabelnikov, director of the Language Training Centre at RRC.

“What that means is that we’re helping our students achieve their goals and connecting them either directly with employers, or with the resources necessary to find work in their chosen careers. I know this success will continue with the expansion. The areas we have expanded in have shown they are in need of language training services for newcomers, and we’re happy to fill that need and help strengthen those communities.”

One of the largest regional sites is in Steinbach, where in April 2017, RRC’s LTC took over English language training from South Eastman English and Literacy Services (SEELS). The SEELS’ 100 students now have access to RRC’s ESL courses.

Another area of growth is in Thompson, which has seen 60 applications to date, and where training being made possible through a partnership with University College of the North (UCN).

“The best way we can integrate newcomers in our community is to offer them the opportunity to learn and to gain employment,” says David Williamson, Acting Dean of Access at UCN. “We’ve welcomed about 200 people to Thompson in the last year, and many of the newcomers have valuable skills to offer — the only barrier keeping them from the kind of job they’re qualified for is language.”

Korabelnikov says she’s particularly encouraged by feedback received from businesses that hire LTC students, citing a recent letter from the manager of a high-tech manufacturing facility in Arborg.

“We employ one hundred folks, around half of whom are born outside of Canada. Many do not have an easy time communicating in English. Until recently, we have had to cope with language barriers, while also training for manufacturing ability,” the letter reads.

“The implementation of the local Language Training Centre … has revolutionized our ability to incorporate newcomers into the workforce. For example, an employee who arrived without knowing a word of English has already moved into a supervisory position. This would never have been possible with their previous language skills.”

Korabelnikov says there are currently 20 applications for the LTC’s programs in Selkirk, which begin in February; she expects that number to rise once more newcomers are made aware of the opportunity.