Stevenson Group highly commended for skills training

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Auckland company Stevenson Group has taken away a highly commended award in the Skills Highway Award category of the 2011 Equal Employment Opportunities Trust (EEO Trust) Work and Life Awards.Skills Highway Work & Life Awards

Department of Labour deputy chief executive for policy and research Jeremy Corban (right) presents a Skills Highway certificate to Stevenson Group chief executive Mark Franklin at the 2011 Equal Employment Opportunities Trust Work and Life Awards.

The award recognises employers who successfully boosted employees’ reading, writing, maths and communications skills with workplace literacy training.

Sponsored by the Department of Labour, it is one of six award categories within the annual EEO Trust Work and Life Awards announced in late August.

Stevenson Group chief executive Mark Franklin is delighted with the award.

"To come this far so early in our journey gives us a lot of pride – and a lot of impetus to keep going with what we’ve started."

Stevenson is a 100-year-old family-owned business that provides services and products to the quarrying, mining, construction, engineering and infrastructure sectors.

In 2010, the company ran its first-ever, five-day literacy course for 53 workers. This year, it rolled out the same course to another 50 employees.

Provided by The Learning Wave, the course takes a broad view of literacy, focusing on everything from problem solving, critical thinking, reading, writing and maths to self-awareness, physical health and relationships.

"Every company will do it differently. But we see this approach as the best option for us. In today’s world, all these things are fundamental to life. You need them all to live and work well," says Mr Franklin.

The company pays staff to attend in company time, offering training to quarry workers, supervisors, machine operators, apprentices, engineers and truck drivers.

Mr Franklin makes it clear to everyone that he backs the training 100 percent.

Stevenson managers and supervisors say teamwork and communication continues to improve.

Employees are more confident, they question and solve problems more readily and relate better to their colleagues.

Mr Franklin believes it’s a mistake to see literacy training as simply about improving literacy and numeracy skills and nothing else – it can boost business productivity too, he says.

"We’re like any ambitious company. All our people need the ability to communicate confidently with each other, work as part of a team and keep their mates safe on the job. They also need the skills to deal with the necessary paperwork and instructions required for their roles.

"With these things sorted, they are more productive. They are better able to adapt to change, avoid potentially dangerous situations and learn new skills and practices," he says.

Jeremy Corban, head of policy and research at the Department of Labour, says: "We can learn a lot from what Stevenson Group has achieved from their approach to literacy training. I encourage other large, well-established firms striving to achieve high standards to follow their lead."

For more on the Skills Highway Award and workplace literacy training, visit the Department’s Skills Highway website:

www.skillshighway.govt.nz/eeo

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