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Eastern Bank Donation Helps Fund Program for College Educated Immigrants

Submitted by on September 15, 2017 – 8:15 pm

NECC President Lane Glenn accepts a check from Eastern Bank’s Daniel P. Hover,
Vice President of Eastern Bank Wealth Management.

Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, Northern Essex Community College will offer a 12-week program titled “English for Skilled Immigrants” designed for English Language Learners who hold college degrees from their home countries, but lack the language and literacy skills to work here in their chosen careers.

The program, which will begin in the spring, will be offered through Northern Essex’s Center for Adult Education Programs and Preparation at the Riverwalk campus in Lawrence, 360 Merrimack St.

Lawrence has seen an increase of up to 24 percent in the number of residents with college degrees, said Wendy Shaffer, dean of development at Northern Essex. “Because of language, credential recognition and other barriers, many highly skilled, college-educated immigrants cannot contribute their academic and professional training and skills. As a result, they work in low-skilled, low-paying jobs or are unemployed.”

While NECC offers lower level ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes, often with sizeable waiting lists, faculty has found themselves teaching ELL students with college education alongside ELL adults with limited literacy skills.The same population with two separate, immediate needs.

These individuals are unable to work in their chosen and trained fields. “Tapping underutilized skills will have a positive impact on local and regional economies,” said Shaffer.

This program will combine classroom with online work and job search activities. There will be a blend of 9.5 hours of face-to-face ESOL and technology classes weekly and 4 to 6 hours of English practice using online English career modules. An employment services advisor will assist with resume writing, professional networking, mock job interviews, and help accessing ValleyWorks Career Center and community resources.

For additional information contact Irene Chalek, executive director of CAEPP at 978-659-1271 or