For the past five years, employees from Lowe’s distribution centers in the U.S. have gained unique, one-week training through an immersion program.
The home improvement retail company provides the Spanish language immersion experience through Concordia Language Villages, a program of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. The Concordia Language Villages training center is located just outside Bemidji, Minnesota. Through the college program, approximately 120 Lowe’s employees participate in the immersion experience annually.
The Spanish immersion program is available for all supervisory and managerial employees of Lowe’s distribution centers nationwide. The one-week programs are five days of full-immersion instruction, and repeat attendees can take sessions to continue to develop their proficiency, says Martin Graefe, Concordia Language Villages’ senior director.
The language skills that participants learn during the program get immediate use once the Lowe’s workers return to their distribution centers, according to an article from Concordia Magazine.
Alternative training methods, like language immersion, may be useful for the future workforce, Graefe explains. Retailers, including independent stores, could benefit from having employees with Spanish proficiency, especially since the demographics of the U.S. population continue to change, he says.
“In many parts of the U.S., Spanish has become a second language in everyday life, which clearly impacts business and the need to successfully interact with customers,” Graefe says. “We know the demographics are shifting in the U.S. and the portion of the population that will have English as their first language will be below 50 percent by 2040.”
When planning for the future, retailers should consider how language and the demographics of their surrounding communities impact business. Hiring employees who are bilingual may be an advantage, depending on store locations. Language learning may be key to successful business operations in the future.
To read the Concordia Magazine article, click here.
To learn more about Concordia Language Villages, click here.