Wilkes and InterMetro Industries Partner to Teach English to Employees

When InterMetro, a Wilkes-Barre corporation that’s made products synonymous with shelving units for over 90 years, reached out to Wilkes for help with teaching English to its Spanish-speaking employees, Kimberly Niezgoda came up with a plan.

Niezgoda, the director of the Intensive English Program at Wilkes, worked closely with the human resources department at InterMetro to develop a 15-week course taught by instructors from the English Language Center at Wilkes. “The initiative is allowing Wilkes to help create a bilingual environment that will give everyone the opportunity to grow within the company. English for occupational purposes is so needed in our current environment, and Wilkes having the ability to provide intensive language training in both English and Spanish makes us the ideal partner for companies looking to invest in their workers,” said Niezgoda.

Darrin Woodruff, InterMetro’s vice president of human resources (and also a ’92 Wilkes grad), cited the responsiveness, flexibility and reputation of the Wilkes English Language Center as reasons for the new partnership. A similar program that teaches English-speaking employees conversational Spanish began in February, continuing InterMetro’s goal of building a culture of inclusivity.

President Greg Cant, along with Niezgoda, recently visited the new classroom at the InterMetro manufacturing facility while a class was in session. “Across our 90-year history, we have been a University that provides opportunities,” he told the class through an interpreter. “We know that language is part of that pathway to opportunity, and will not only help you achieve success, but your company as well,” he said. Cant then toured the manufacturing facility guided by Rich Bonning ’93, InterMetro’s director of operations systems and processes.

The Wilkes University/InterMetro English as a Second Language initiative is a successful model that will pave the way for future partnerships, making higher education more accessible for students whose first language is not English and also ensuring workplace safety and employee advancement opportunities.

InterMetro employees in classroom
Wilkes University’s English Language Center faculty work with InterMetro employees during classes offered twice a week for six weeks.