How Skanska created Wake Tech’s “Spanish for Construction” course

Students starting or returning to Wake Technical Community College (Wake Tech) this fall had a new course offering to choose from: Spanish for Construction. This self-paced, online Spanish course is designed for construction workers, contractors, foreman and anyone who works with Spanish-speaking colleagues in the construction industry. The idea for this class was realized by our team, and we worked with Wake Tech to make it a reality.

15 Skanska employees participated in two pilot programs of Wake Tech’s “Spanish for Construction” course before it became available to the public.

The idea for the course formed after I expressed to my colleagues an interest in learning Spanish to better communicate with non-native English speakers on our project site. I realized that other employees were interested in this type of class as well, so Regional Vendor Diversity Vendor Johnny Ortiz reached out to one of our current clients, Wake Tech, for their input.

Wake Tech’s reaction was overwhelmingly positive. They saw a need in the market to improve the overall communication and safety with the local Hispanic workforce in construction, and this class was a good solution. Johnny then had multiple meetings with their course creators to ensure the course was a fit for construction industry professionals.

After the details of the class were agreed upon, two cohorts of the pilot program were delivered to 15 Skanska employees. During this time, our team members provided great feedback on the course to Wake Tech. The only constructive criticism was that it was a lot of information to process in one course, and our team members would have liked to learn slower given their full-time work schedules.

During the class, our team members got to practice their Spanish while doing announcements at Stretch and Flex, a daily 15-minute program that consists of all onsite employees warming up with simple stretches followed by announcements. We rotate all our staff through leading Stretch & Flex and announcements monthly. Most of the subcontractors knew we were taking this class, so they encouraged and helped us learn in real-world circumstances. 

Since our team members graduated from the course, it’s certainly had a cultural impact to the project. There’s now a higher level of respect for Skanska by our subcontractor workers because they could see our effort to better understand their language and culture. There are also phrases and sentences that we use on a regular basis now onsite. 

Participating in the pilot program for “Spanish for Construction” was an unforgettable experience. It brought our team members together and we now work better as a team thanks to this course.

Last updated: 11/18/2021