Friday was a proud day at the Kentucky Manufacturing Career Center.

A dozen immigrants from nine countries graduated from a training program called Manufacturing Training for English Language Learners, or M-TELL.

“By 2040, we anticipate that one out of six Louisvillians will have been born in another country,” said Bryan Warren, Louisville Metro Government Office of Globalization Director.

“I work in refrigeration tech,” Essaid Bennzi said. “I am from Morocco”

Bennzi moved to Louisville one year ago. He was part of the previous M-TELL class and landed a job at KCC Manufacturing near Jeffersontown the day after graduation.

“We build large commercial HVAC units,” KCC’s Mike Kopp said.

KCC is growing so rapidly, it's just about always hiring.

“The biggest challenge to our continued growth is finding quality, talented, skilled labor,” Kopp said.

That's why KCC, along with other manufacturing companies like GE Appliances, plucks people right out of the M-TELL class.

“The thing I like about the M-TELL program is the character traits of the individuals participating in the program,” Kopp said. “Coming from another country, it takes a lot of courage, it takes a lot of initiative, it takes a lot of drive. You have to be a problem solver. You have to be a planner.”

KCC jobs start around $16 or $17 an hour with the potential for a lot of overtime.

“In the case of immigrants, there are just a couple barriers that we need to cross,” Warren said. “One is helping them learn English, and the other is to get the skills to do the job. So M-TELL does both of those things.”

M-TELL is a free, three-week training program, five hours a day. The students learn about workplace safety and can earn certificates, like forklift operating certificates.

The program is helping employers fill positions with qualified workers and helping people like Bennzi earn a living in Louisville.

“I feel happy,” Bennzi said.

The next M-TELL class graduates in March. For more information about registering, click here

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