Workforce Training Fund Grant Makes a Large Impact at Bradford & Bigelow
NEWBURYPORT, Mass. — December 1, 2016 — There was a lot to be thankful for last week, when 19 employees at book manufacturing firm Bradford & Bigelow, based here, accepted certificates for the completion of a year-long, 220-hour English language program at the Northern Essex Community College (NECC). The Workplace English program for Bradford & Bigelow employees was made possible by a $246,762 Workforce Training Fund grant from the state's Commonwealth Corporation, which Bradford & Bigelow received in late 2015.
In addition to funding Workplace English for employees, the grant also covered sales training, effective supervisory management skills, Microsoft Office Suite 2013 and technical training. According to John Galligan, president of Bradford & Bigelow, this was the largest grant in Massachusetts' state history given to a printing company — and one of the largest ever in the state.
The program has allowed a number of Bradford & Bigelow workers to advance their careers and also provided an opportunity for some newly promoted managers/shift leaders to improve their skill sets and managerial effectiveness. One of those employees is Cesiah Albarran, who was a graduate of the program and was recently promoted to account manager. "I spoke a little bit of English when I came here, but it was English learned from books. Participating in this program gave me the confidence to communicate in English."
Galligan notes that since the program began, it has also been a positive contributor to the company’s annual sales growth from $26 million to $31 million (a 16% year-over-year increase). Through education, training and technology investment, the company has also created 60-plus jobs in the past several years.
"As an ISO 9000:2015 certified company, continuous training and improvement is a basic component of our DNA and corporate culture," Galligan points out. "This program has been essential to our growth and NECC has been a terrific partner and facilitator."
Galligan adds that the program has been very well received and re-enforces the positive work environment that Bradford & Bigelow tries to improve upon every day. "Our team members see our real-time commitment to create growth and economic opportunity for all involved in a very challenging industry."
According to Kathryn Ronaldson, program manager at NECC's Center for Corporate Education, Workplace English or ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) is critical to the continued productivity and competitiveness of companies within the lower Merrimack Valley region of Massachusetts who hire entry-level employees that are lower-skilled and lack proficiency in English.
"By leveraging the Workforce Training Fund grant, employers can access monies to provide basic, intermediate, and advanced contextualized ESOL training for their employees,” Ronaldson explains. “These important skills increase opportunities for more professional development and internal promotion, as well as increasing workers’ confidence and employee morale.”
Since the program was such a great success at Bradford & Bigelow, Ronaldson plans to spread the word so that other printing companies in the region are aware of the employee training opportunities through the training grant.
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