Workplace Literacy Courses Lead to Success

Press Release – Adult Learners’ Week

When Fonterra process worker Stephanie Viliamu signed up for a workplace literacy programme, she never expected it could help lead to a promotion. But that’s exactly what happened when she completed the free literacy course and shortly afterward, …28 October 2011

Workplace Literacy Courses Lead to Success

When Fonterra process worker Stephanie Viliamu signed up for a workplace literacy programme, she never expected it could help lead to a promotion. But that’s exactly what happened when she completed the free literacy course and shortly afterward, found herself promoted to a facilitator role at Fonterra’s Takanini site.

Workplace literacy courses are government funded and delivered on site for 40 hours at various businesses around the country. Sadler & Associates, a programme provider, believe that the courses can make a significant difference in the professional and personal lives of learners. “What’s so great about it is that we are able to touch the lives of employees who otherwise might not be able to attend this kind of training,” says Sadlers Programme Manager Kelly Seaburg.

The courses are funded through the Workplace Literacy Fund, a government scheme which aims to improve the core literacy skills of working New Zealanders while simultaneously improving the productivity and efficiency of local companies.

For companies like Fonterra, where Stephanie works, the course has made staff feel valued. “I think if they (the employees) feel like they’ve been given the opportunity to do this course, then obviously the company cares,” she comments.

Aside from obvious literacy and language gains, learners on these types of programmes also find personal rewards from the training, says Fonterra Brands Pastry House Manufacturing Manager Jeremy Whitten. “They were like, ‘oh this is great, we’re going to be able to read the newspaper, we’re going to be able to go home and read our kids homework’…so they found a personal reason for it, as well as at work.”

At work, part of the training tackles staff confidence with filling out forms, such as hazard identification documentation. This has the advantage of helping companies to keep their employees as safe as possible at work. “Safety has been a big focus… I know that the tutor will talk about the hazards being raised and make sure the guys know exactly what they are,” says Jeremy.

Learners are also often surprised to discover that the literacy training is different to what they expected. “Some employees, who perhaps didn’t have a good experience at school, have a positive experience with the training, because it values their experience and builds on skills they already have,” says Kelly.

Staff at all levels within an organisation can benefit from workplace training, says Jeremy, who noticed a huge improvement in the confidence of his team leaders to articulate their ideas in meetings and inspire their staff. This has certainly been the case for Fonterra Team leader Lorraine Tawhiao, who gained a real confidence boost from the training after 19 years on the job. “I have to be able to communicate cross culturally, and doing the course made me more understanding and a better communicator,” she says.

For another participant, machine operator Jim Doran, taking part in the training gave him a ‘clearer head’ and polished his writing skills in a relaxed learning environment. “The tutor was easy to talk to and patient when people asked questions,” says Jim. “That’s what I liked.”

Businesses can apply for funding for workplace literacy training through the Tertiary Education Commission. Sadler & Associates have successfully delivered workplace training programmes to a range of industries including food and beverage production, retail, manufacturing and aged care.

ENDS

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