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TACO, Inc., RIC Partner for Vocational Training  

TACO, Inc. employees who just completed professional development through RIC’s outreach programs are seen here with their teachers. Back row, left to right: Sithi Sisouvong; teacher Jay Busse; Bouavanh Phanhsena; Rafael Silvestre and Gloria Gonzalez.  Front row, left to right:  Ana Vasquez; Teth Phann; teacher Donna Androzzi and Aida Rodriquez.

TACO, Inc. employees who just completed professional development through RIC’s outreach programs are seen here with their teachers. Back row, left to right: Sithi Sisouvong; teacher Jay Busse; Bouavanh Phanhsena; Rafael Silvestre and Gloria Gonzalez. Front row, left to right: Ana Vasquez; Teth Phann; teacher Donna Androzzi and Aida Rodriquez.

When TACO, Inc. employee Anna Vasquez realized her adult education class offered through Rhode Island College would involve a lot of homework, she almost passed on the opportunity. “Then I said, let me give myself a chance,” Vasquez said. “I want to thank TACO for giving us the opportunity to improve in life. We’re very happy.”

Vasquez was referring to a group of TACO employees who recently completed classes offered through the Office of Professional Studies and Continuing Education in English as a Second Language (ESL) or Adult Basic Education. The program focuses on helping adults improve English language reading, writing and speaking skills, as well as math and problem-solving skills, in preparation for their General Educational Development certification.

Jen Giroux, associate vice president for RIC’s outreach programs, said program focus is weighted equally in career content and soft skills including communication, personal conduction, teamwork and customer service. In addition to ESL and basic education classes, vocational training programs include bookkeeping, insurance technology, green business management and medical assistance.

TACO has run adult education programs for about 20 years, since opening the TACO Learning Center at its Cranston headquarters. This is the first year TACO has contracted with RIC and the first work site training RIC has run. “Based on the success of this program, we really see work-site training programs as the future of professional development,” Giroux said. “It’s conducive to people’s schedules, it can be tailored to the employer and employee needs, and it can be really cost effective. I would like to see worksite training become more prominent in our programs.”

Nancy Quinlan, training and development manager at TACO, said she was thrilled with the RIC programming. “I was blown away,” Quinlan said. “I think the level of expertise amongst the RIC teachers is outstanding.”

Outreach programs at RIC provide vocational training and ESL classes to unemployed, underemployed and dislocated workers in Rhode Island. Through partnerships with Rhode Island businesses, the college offers bilingual students the opportunity to improve their English-speaking skills, as well as their work readiness skills to enter or advance within the workforce.