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Extending Workplace Literacy is an essential investment.
Extending workplace literacy funding to industry training is an essential economic and social investment for New Zealand, says the Industry Training Federation.
Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce confirmed today the government's additional investment in workplace literacy in Budget 2016 will be extended to industry trainees working towards Level 1 and 2 qualifications.
“We are delighted the industry training sector can make more of a difference to our skilled workforce by improving adult literacy in workplaces across the country,” says ITF Chief Executive Josh Williams.
Every day, 140,000 industry trainees and apprentices are learning on the job across a great number of New Zealand industries. For some, access to specialist literacy support will be the key that unlocks their success, in terms of both educational achievement and workplace productivity.
“New Zealand has a big literacy challenge and it’s good to see the government facing that challenge. Literacy issues must be addressed at all levels of the system, whether someone is five or fifty-five," Mr Williams says.
"Literacy is the foundation for all other skills. Improving literacy will improve productivity, safety and competence in the workplace, and deliver far-reaching economic benefits. It will also improve the quality of life for many New Zealanders, including family life and further educational success."
New Zealand’s commitment to workplace literacy is welcomed, but so far is just scratching the surface of a national issue. New OECD data to be released later this month will show us where New Zealand is at and how far we’ve got to go.
"While targeting this support to foundation level learners makes sense, we also see literacy issues holding people back from career steps into supervision and management, where we can really move the needle on productivity.” Mr Williams says.
The ITF is working in partnership with the Tertiary Education Commission to manage the Skills Highway programme, which helps businesses access support, resources, and the right literacy and numeracy programmes for their workers.
‘Keeping it Fresh’ at Sanford, Timaru
More confident and engaged staff, and better health and safety awareness are the results of the ‘Keeping it Fresh’ training programme for 32 Sanford workers in Timaru.
As New Zealand’s largest fishing and aquaculture business, Sanford has 1,400 employees from Steward Island to Auckland, and sites in Australia and China.
But the Timaru site has been making waves with the 10-week workplace training programme. Delivered by Risk Management Group (RMG), the course focused on communicating and problem solving about health and safety.
“It’s one of the proudest moments I’ve had as a boss,” says site manager Grant Day. “We’re in a place to make Sanford’s Timaru one of the best performing workplaces in Sanford. Outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens.”
Some were nervous and unsure prior to the course. “I didn’t want to be here,” says course participant Warren. “I didn’t sleep the night before. Then it took off. With the tutor it got better and better. We enjoyed it.” Another participant, Paul, says “my mind went boom! I got into the rhythm. It was the stuff we didn’t learn at school. Good things.”
Project groups were required to identify health and safety issues, conduct surveys, collect and analyse data, evaluate solutions, and present their recommendations
One finding was that Sanford lacked data on staff with allergies to histamines in fish. The evidence showed allergies were a significant issue, so the group recommended a policy be developed, and a register set up. Management have taken this on board, and will be considering solutions.
“Guys are grabbing me and talking to me about stuff!,” says Grant Day. “Everyone wins and can do more when they understand what they are doing and their role in the team. It’s about empowerment – having people working because they want to rather than because they have to.”
“Watching people grow in confidence, begin to tackle big life issues and re-engage in the workplace is truly inspirational,” says RMG’s Lyn Nikoloff. “Everyone has a story, everyone has a voice – sometimes life knocks our confidence but when we regain it our workplaces become safer and smarter, and our lives more powerful.”
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