Laying the foundations for good chocolate

Haigh’s Chocolates in Adelaide is a participant in a Foundation Skills Pilot program that Ai Group is currently conducting in manufacturing companies in three states.

The program is targeted at the literacy and numeracy needs of the workforce – in this case, confectionery production team workers. Eight participants are undertaking three units of competency from the Foundation Skills Training Package:

  • Interact effectively with others at work;
  • Read and respond to routine workplace information; and
  • Calculate with whole numbers and familiar fractions, decimals and percentages for work.

These units were selected by Haigh’s in conjunction with Bonnie Hart, the trainer from TAFE SA, and they indicate the approach Haigh’s is taking to continuous improvement for its workforce.

Bonnie Hart from TAFE SA with the Haigh’s Chocolates team of Marion Veal (Training Co-ordinator), Jody Flynn (People and Culture Manager) and Shane Wall (Production Manager)

Bonnie Hart from TAFE SA (far left) with the Haigh’s Chocolates team of Marion Veal (Training Co-ordinator), Jody Flynn (People and Culture Manager) and Shane Wall (Production Manager)

While the program is not yet complete, a number of benefits are already apparent. The three supervisors working with these employees have reported an increase in the employees’ confidence to speak out and be listened to.

In addition, the participants have contributed to the process of simplifying workplace documents. This has been facilitated by a regular activity aimed at identifying continuous improvement strategies.

The workers have made several comments about the language and communication benefits of participation in the program:

“I can see the changes in my writing, but I still have a long way to go.”

“I am speaking more with my supervisor.”

“My pronunciation is improving.”

“I am learning about spelling.”

“I want to keep improving my writing so I can do better reports for Haigh’s.”

There were also general comments about the program such as:

“It was a real boost that they listen to our ideas and took action. So quickly. One of the changes happened in 2 minutes!”

“This course has reinvigorated two of us. We are feeling positive towards the company and the future.”

“I have enjoyed talking about problems such as issues with Batch Cards and we have come up with solutions which have been acted upon.”

The delivery of foundation skills in the workplace can make a real difference to the individual participants and to the effectiveness of company operations.

Further information is available from Michael Taylor, National Policy and Projects Manager, Workforce Development, Tel: (03) 9867 0134.

Have you implemented a similar foundation skills program in your workplace? Share your experiences and start a conversation by leaving a comment below.

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Michael Taylor is Ai Group’s National Policy and Projects Manager, Education and Training. He is responsible for a number of national projects across workplace literacy and numeracy, skills, and the management of a mature age workforce. Michael also contributes to policy formulation across a wide spectrum of education, training and skills.

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