Thank you to the International Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors Association for inviting me to attend their educational conference last week. It was hosted by certified counselors Gerry Davis, Cindi Rivera, and retired counselor Jack Dymon at the State of Nevada Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation. The focus of the conference was working with multi-cultural groups, and educational and training resources for clients with limited English ability.
I need to be aware of retraining programs that are suitable for my clients who have limited ability to read, write and speak English, and most retraining programs in Las Vegas require that the student learn in English. With our growing Hispanic population, trying to find a suitable retraining program is a huge challege for vocational counselors and the attorneys who represent them. The second half of the program features vendors of retraining programs that offered some retraining in Spanish and that also had ESL programs available to their students. Those vendors that attended were PITA (Professional Institute of Technology and Accounting), Fastrax Training Center, and The Academy for Human Development.
After hearing about the various ways that the schools were trying to adapt to a growing non-English speaking clientele, it was interesting that all speakers who attended the conference put forth the message that it is essential that all injured workers learn to speak, read and write English. There is simply no funding or appetite by insurers or employers to accommodate injured workers who do no put forth a significant effort to improve English skills so that they may participate in existing programs. Those schools who do provide extra resources, such as bilingual instructors, emphasize that English is essential for success in the work place.