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Educational partnership aims to help Hispanics obtain career certification and job opportunities

A certificate program offered through an educational alliance between Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and La Cocina VA, a nonprofit organization that generates workforce and economic development, will allow unemployed Hispanics to obtain skills in the food service industry and improve their employment opportunities.

La Cocina VA and NOVA recognize the additional challenges that the 2.2 million unemployed members of Hispanic communities often face in job attainment, such as low English proficiency and lack of access to training programs. Frequently, occupational training programs are not targeted toward groups who have limited English skills or low educational attainment. This further prevents Hispanic immigrants from gaining the skills they need to obtain a sustainable income and pursue a growing career path.

The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) has identified training programs that provide language instruction contextualized for the workplace along with skills training as the most effective way to meet the needs of immigrant workers.

La Cocina VA has announced the opening of the Competency Certification Course for the fall of 2014. The program will have approximately 30 openings for students and offer 14 weeks of instruction in bilingual culinary skills, Servsafe Certification and Vocational English Instruction. The course also includes a 40-hour internship experience at local commercial restaurants and hotels.

Participants will earn double certification – one from NOVA through Continuing Education Units (CEU) for the Culinary Arts and Vocational English Instruction – and a Servsafe Food Manager Certification issued by the National Restaurant Association.

Patricia Funegra, executive director of La Cocina VA, emphasized that those graduating from the program will also receive placement support through partnerships with food service and hospitality businesses in the Washington Metropolitan Area.

Funegra said that support from NOVA’s Workforce Development Division in designing and implementing this program is a key component of success and a solid contribution to generating sustainable job opportunities.

Funegra explained that participants will take 14 weeks’ worth of classes in four separate subjects.


Those interested in the program can contact La Cocina VA at info@lacocinava.org or find more information on its website: lacocinava.org.

Media representatives seeking more information can contact Michael Sales, business outreach specialist for NOVA’s Workforce Development Division, at 703.425.5171 or by e-mailing msales@nvcc.edu

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.