Inbox: Skills training boosts business

In 24 months Hamilton-based engineering firm Longveld Engineering has doubled milk tanker production through workplace literacy training.
King Salmon’s Nelson plant took just year to increase first-grade salmon production by 25 percent with skills training.
Two of the country’s largest construction firms, Fletcher Construction and Downer, have boosted business productivity and performance across the board after four years of literacy training.
These are just four examples of many Kiwi companies using workplace literacy training to improve their bottom line.
Research shows about four in every 10 New Zealand employees have difficulties with reading, maths and communication. The country’s poor adult literacy rates have long been considered serious issue that costs business through accidents and injuries, high wastage, mistakes, missed deadlines and low productivity.
Longveld managing director Les Roa (pictured) is strong advocate of workplace literacy training.
“I’ve made it top priority at Longveld – and I’d encourage other business leaders to do the same.
“You just need to get your head around it as business and make it work. I believe businesses can’t afford not to do it. They need to see it as an investment, not cost. That’s because the payback is enormous,” he says.
Longveld introduced training in 2008 for employees who speak English as second language.
Migrants from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Fiji, Wales and India make up third of the company’s workforce.
The programme taught form filling, matching safety signs with words and simple numeracy.
It was later adapted to suit the company’s New Zealand-born employees, particularly tradesmen who missed out on the basics at school and staff keen to become leaders.
“Before training we would have found it difficult to build more than three milk tankers week. In the past year, we’ve built seven per week – an improvement I attribute to better communication among my staff and improved literacy and numeracy skills.”
Today, all Longveld employees undergo literacy and numeracy skills assessment before starting an apprenticeship, industry-based training or going on to tertiary-level business training. M
• For more information on skills training see www.skillshighway.govt.nz/ind

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