Rosen Hotels & Resorts teams up with Orange County and UCF Global in Creating “EPIC” ESOL Pilot for International Drive Hotel Employees

Onsite English language instruction given to Rosen associates taught by UCF Global

Orange County, FL – Sadya Pierre has a tough job. For the last five years, she has worked as a housekeeper at the Rosen Centre Hotel on International Drive. Originally from Haiti, Pierre’s limited language proficiency led to challenges communicating with guests at the hotel, as well as with simply living in a largely English-speaking community.

Now she’s tackling this challenge head-on and improving her mastery of the English language through EPIC (English Program for workers in the International Drive Corridor), a pilot program led by Orange County Government and delivered by UCF Global. When Rosen Hotels & Resorts offered the class to Pierre and her co-workers, she jumped at the chance to participate and has now completed the first phase of the eight-week program, increasing her ability to communicate.

To help Sadya Pierre and others like her, Orange County Government launched EPIC, a pilot program for English language instruction tailored to the needs of working adults in the I-Drive corridor in September 2022. Orange County’s I-Drive Community Redevelopment Act (CRA) Advisory Group that guides CRA strategy, had recommended an investment in English language instruction to support professional growth and retention.

Through this unique model, hotel and resort properties within the International Drive CRA were invited to extend the opportunity to participate in three cycles of ESOL classes to their employees. Rosen Hotels & Resorts accepted the offer and nearly 60 employees signed up, with some 100 more expressing interest. For their part, Rosen Hotels & Resorts provided space for the classes and paid their employees to attend as part of their workday. The classes were held twice a week for two hours.

“We were pleased that leadership from Rosen Hotels & Resorts stepped up to provide this innovative programming for their employees,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings. “It is rewarding to see these lifelong learners seeking to improve their ability to communicate and their eagerness to pursue professional growth in the heart of our tourism corridor.”

These classes are not new to Sadya and Rosen Hotels & Resorts. Over the last couple of decades, the hospitality leader has proudly offered similar ESOL programs.
Now, this new partnership allows Rosen associates to go next-level in their mastery of the English language and continue further toward proficiency.

“I love my associates,” said Harris Rosen, President and COO of Rosen Hotels & Resorts. “And anything that I can do to help them improve their lives, whether it be learning a second language or a new skill, I will enthusiastically support. In fact, at Rosen Hotels & Resorts, we make sure that our associates are able to attend the classes during their scheduled workday. We do this so that they do not have to worry about losing any pay while attending the classes.”

This week, the second of three phases of instruction will begin. Rosen Hotels & Resorts will extend the same benefits to the students by providing space and paying them to attend. UCF Global has set a capacity of 75 students so the program has room to grow as more resort employees show interest, as well as to evolve to continue meeting upskill demands for the area’s workforce.

According to Jennifer Haddad, M.Ed., Program Director, UCF Global Engagement, nearly 64% of the participants in this pilot program indicated better work opportunities as their main interest in the program. “UCF is dedicated to promoting broad-based prosperity throughout our community, and we’re pleased to help participants increase their earning potential while giving employers an incentive that can help to retain their employees,” Haddad said. “As a result, we know that the language instruction is a step toward the goal of supporting higher earning potential for workers and value-added retention for employers.”

UCF is collecting data on participant aspirations and challenges, and employer operational challenges, which will help the County design and implement a sustainable ESOL program once the EPIC pilot is complete. As for expansion options, the opportunity to make this program available to employees at other resort properties within the International Drive CRA area is still available.

“We would love to see additional hotels and resort properties offer these classes to their employees, and we hope more will get involved,” added Demings. “These kinds of public-private partnerships strengthen our community as a whole and can be valuable in providing upskill opportunities to our region’s talent force.”

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About Orange County Government: Orange County Government strives to serve its residents and guests with integrity, honesty, fairness and professionalism. Located in Central Florida, Orange County includes 13 municipalities and is home to world-famous theme parks, one of the nation’s largest convention centers and a thriving life science research park. Seven elected members make up the Board of County Commissioners, including the Mayor, who is elected countywide. For more information, please visit www.OCFL.net or go to Orange County Government’s social media channels.

About UCF Global: UCF Global is on a quest to transform lives by providing access to high impact, international experiences across the UCF and global community with a commitment to excellence in partnership, innovation, and services. For more information, visit https://global.ucf.edu/

About Rosen Hotels & Resorts: Providing excellence for nearly 50 years in Central Florida, Rosen Hotels & Resorts proudly includes the award-winning convention properties Rosen Shingle Creek, Rosen Plaza and Rosen Centre in its family, in addition to four leisure properties, Rosen Inn International, Rosen Inn Closest to Universal, Rosen Inn Lake Buena Vista and Rosen Inn Pointe Orlando. All are equally committed to providing outstanding guest service, value and security for our guests. Rosen Hotels & Resorts is also committed to the safety, wellbeing and growth of its associates and the community by giving generously through its multiple foundations, changing lives forever with affordable health coverage and providing college scholarship programs for children in underserved communities. For more information, visit www.rosenhotels.com.

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