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CUNY Community College Consortium, New York City Sales and Service Training Partnership:
Grant Proposal for the Limited English Proficient Workforce Development Project

Metis Associates developed a successful $1 million grant proposal to the U.S. Department of Labor to fund the New York City Sales and Service Training Partnership (NYCSSTP) program for workers with limited English proficiency. The NYCSSTP was established in 2003 to address both employee and employer needs for English proficiency in the retail workforce. Foreign-born workers make up 43% of New York City's total labor force yet account for two-thirds of the city's low-wage earners, many of them in the growing retail industry. While being multilingual and multicultural can be an advantage in the retail industry, lack of English proficiency can prevent immigrant workers from communicating effectively with employers, co-workers, and English-speaking customers, resulting in misunderstandings, higher error rates, and less productive customer interactions. Ultimately, lack of English proficiency creates obstacles to advancement for these workers.

With a consortium of CUNY colleges and large local employers who made significant in-kind contributions to the program, NYCSSTP enrolled 240 Hispanic and other low-English-proficiency workers in a program to increase their English skills and help them acquire jobs or advance in the retail or food-service industries. The partnership also developed customer-service curricula incorporating cutting-edge instructional technologies, provided ESL instruction and job counseling, and shared the lessons learned.