Sign on to the English Works Campaign

agrees to support and participate in the English Works Campaign.
As a signatory to English Works, our organization agrees to be listed on English Works materials and will have a seat on the Campaign Committee.
We enter into this voluntary agreement with English Works in a spirit of partnership and collaboration, and with a vision of a Commonwealth that provides all residents with a pathway to economic self-sufficiency; ensures a stable, skilled workforce for Massachusetts businesses today and in the future; and integrates immigrants into the fabric of our economy, communities and shared civic life.


Manufacturing

Microsemi Corporation, a semiconductor manufacturer in Irvine, CA, acquired two Massachusetts-based semiconductor manufacturers in August of 2001. Within a few months the decision was made to consolidate the two product lines into a Lawrence, MA facility where one of the companies had been located. The acquisitions were part of Microsemi’s aggressive business growth strategy, bucking the trend of many of its neighbors that had packed up for foreign shores.

In January 2004, through a grant from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), NECC’s Department of Adult Literacy and Transition Programs introduced a workplace ESOL program. Microsemi and the College began a three year partnership designed to improve production and open lines of communication at the company’s Lawrence facility.

“We didn’t want there to be any roadblocks to people
understanding safety issues, but we also had some
very highly skilled non-native speakers that weren’t
able to train anyone else that didn’t speak their
language. We wanted to give them the tools to train
others in those skills that don’t speak their native
language.”

— Kristin Yencho, HR Director

The existing language barriers made meeting customer and government compliance audits a concern, with some employees unable to verbally demonstrate their understanding of the job specifications.

A preliminary analysis of workforce needs found that employees at all levels of the company were deeply interested in improving the lives of workers through increased self esteem and confidence as well as increasing company production and efficiency through ESOL.

Microsemi provided 100% paid leave time to its ESOL students to attend classes during work hours, and ensured that students are aware of the time and energy investment involved in learning a new language.

Fifty-four students participated in ESOL classes. Of these, 87% advanced at least one Educational Functioning Level and 37% advanced three levels. Improved communication and cross training among production workers contributes to increased workplace flexibility and efficiency. Most prominently, workplace moral has improved. Says NECC ESOL teacher Dot Gulardo. “People started saying ‘good morning’ instead of averting eye contact. It began a new sense of communication within the office, within production, and [among] different levels of the company.”

The “inside” changes at Microsemi mirror the important changes that the program has brought about in a number of employees’ “outside” lives, including a number of workers who were inspired to become citizens after gaining English proficiency.

“Now we can really communicate with people, not only in the company, but in the outside world,” says Khanh Tran, an ESOL student. “That’s a big thing, socializing, and being with society.”


Contacts:

Microsemi Corporation
6 Lake Street
Lawrence, MA 01841
Phone: 978-620-2600
E-mail: kyencho@microsemi.com

Northern Essex Community College
Lawrence Campus, 45 Franklin Street
Lawrence, MA 01841
Phone: 978-738-7621
E-mail: ichalek@necc.mass.edu

Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education
Adult and Community Learning Services
www.does.mass.edu/acls
Phone: 781-338-3858
E-mail: osteele@doe.mass.edu