‘Inclusion and Diversity: Orange County expands ESOL Pilot Program for I-Drive employees

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County’s pilot program for hospitality workers has been a success.


At the beginning of the year, the county started its ESOL for Working Adults Pilot Program to help hospitality workers strengthen their talents.

After seeing positive outcomes in student learning and employer experience, Orange County Government will expand the program to include more employers.

IMA Medical Group and Paramount Hospitality Management will now provide employees with the English language learning program onsite.

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Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings said he is excited to bring more opportunities to the International Drive community.

“Early data indicates clear benefits to our workforce and employers when public and private businesses come together to remove barriers to instruction like income, transportation, and childcare,” he said.

The two new organizations joined the pilot program on Monday.

They will provide space, time, support, and pay for their employees participating in the language learning coursework over the next eight weeks.

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The county will use data from these pilots to design and implement a sustainable ESOL program.

Marco Manzie, Founder & President of Paramount Hospitality Management, said he is looking forward to expanding the ESOL program.

“English language proficiency is a critical tool for effective communication and personal and professional growth,” Manzie said. “This initiative enables our workforce to enhance their language skills and bridges the gap, fostering a more inclusive and diverse workplace.”

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IMA Medical Group Chief Executive Officer Donna Walker said this program would help their employees’ professional and personal development.

“Aligning with our vision, we are excited about this new partnership with Orange County and UCF Global to offer free English classes to our team members,” she said. “By joining forces, we can enhance the English proficiency of our workforce, providing them the ability to expand their opportunities and better serve the patients in the IMA communities.”

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Research from the pilot program in Rosen Hotels & Resorts reported an employee’s growth in confidence, speaking, and understanding of the English language.

While nearly half of the participants have been in the U.S. for more than eight years, 60% had not taken English classes in the past, and 50% of this group cited work schedules as a barrier to learning English.

Through a grant from Orange County, UCF Global will continue to provide English classes to help workers advance in their professional careers.

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