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Now migrant workers can speak the lingo

Angus College is to offer free English language training for migrant workers in an initiative by the European Social Fund, Scottish Enterprise Tayside and the college.

Small to medium enterprises are being invited to bid for the courses which will be tailored to the needs of their migrant workforces. The first courses, likely to be delivered through 10 two-and-a-half-hour sessions, will be at the workplace or the college.

Up to 20 employers are expected to show an interest in the initiative, which is to cost pound;79,000 in the first year. In future years, it is hoped employers will provide their own financial backing.

There are around 4,500 migrant workers in Tayside - a fifth of whom are based in Angus, according to research by Communities Scotland. Many are in low-skilled jobs in agriculture, tourism, hospitality and food processing.

David Cohen, the college's officer in charge, says: "Employers are concerned about the level of language skills of migrant workers who need to be able to understand health and safety regulations and issues relating to hygiene."

The Communities Scotland study found that language was a major barrier to finding advice and assistance on local services. Local organisations have now produced a multilingual "Welcome to Angus" information pack on housing, driving, transport, money and banking, health services, benefits, the emergency services and fire prevention.

It is available in Polish, Russian, Czech and Bulgarian, in addition to English, and also provides a contact for victim support services for those who suffer racial attacks or abuse.

One Angus-based Polish migrant who has already benefited from night classes in English is Jaromir Kruczynski, from Cracow in Poland. Mr Kruczynski, who has higher education qualifications in administration and management, found that his poor English, compounded by difficulties in understanding local accents, was a major problem.

After attending classes at Angus College, he now has a job as a site supervisor with a construction company that employs other migrant workers.

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