C3 'accelerates' confidence and health & safety outcomes

C3’s Training and Development Co-ordinator Angela Drew says the secret to their successful literacy and numeracy course “C3 Accelerate” is both “planning” and “working towards sustainability”.

C3 provides Stevedoring, Warehousing and Log Marshalling services for 15 New Zealand ports. They have over 800 staff handling 14.5 million tonnes of cargo each year, which includes 23 million logs, 3.5 million tonnes of forest products and 300,000 tonnes of steel. After the first year of running “C3 Accelerate”, at least 40% of the employees who had completed the course had gone on to take more responsibility in the company. 

“C3 Accelerate” was introduced to improve safety and contribute to the professional and personal development of C3 employees. To successfully introduce workplace literacy and numeracy programmes, a number of “ducks have to be lined up”. “As far as training is concerned, most of our employees had only ever received on-job training related to the task they are performing, along with compliance training.  We felt there was a need throughout the company to offer a comprehensive course that included literacy and numeracy,” says Angela.

“To engage our employees, we wrapped the learning around the proposed changes to Health and Safety legislation.  We put out flyers at all our sites saying, ‘Do you see yourself as a potential leader?  Would you like to be more involved in safety in the workplace?’   The flyer stated that the course would focus on building confidence, safety in the workplace, improving writing and computer skills and helping to work with new employees. Mostly employees put their own names forward, although in some cases, they were ‘shoulder tapped’.” 

As this was an in-house programme there was no formal Training Needs Analysis.  “We created content specific to our business by looking at how the business operated and the skills employees needed,” says Angela. “The part that worked really well was that each session included lots of variation and interaction, tailored to the needs of the participants. It included personal development components that these guys never get to do, which they all felt was invaluable, such as understanding their own and others’ personalities and communication strategies they could use at work and at home. It was also flexible as it wasn’t tied to unit standards or filling out booklets.” 

As the C3 operation is 24/7 across multiple sites, the training had to be well planned, in terms of the length of sessions (four hourly, face to face), the size of group (3-6), and how often (every four weeks in Year One and every two weeks in Year Two). This was complemented by online classroom and homework components.  Angela says workers from different sites combined. “Guys came from Gisborne to Napier and from Marsden Point to Auckland. We used one tutor, contracted to C3 – that’s the secret. Having a tutor working exclusively for us meant we had the flexibility to meet the ever-changing demands of our industry.” C3 Managers were also committed to the programme. “Managers saw it as an opportunity for their employees and were prepared to pay for them to attend in work time.”  

Keeping the literacy and numeracy work going can be challenging for companies, and C3 are still working through the future plan. Last year a range of other training interventions were introduced at C3 including front-line management training (L3) and Adult Education Certificates (L4) for their trainers. While they are taking a break from delivering literacy and numeracy programmes in the short-term, Angela says they will start again in the middle of the year. “The CEO wishes for it to continue.” 

However the literacy and numeracy ‘lens’ is used to inform other training. For example, when designing their online training, C3 make sure that modules use a combination of visual and written material, along with audio and video content. Overall, what will help most with sustainability is the fact the programme is internally run. “As it has been in-house there is a legacy – we understand the business and have a relationship with the managers and the people,” says Angela. “The longer the programme runs, the more positive the impact is on health and safety, and the more sustainable the learning is for the company as a whole.  There is a new vocabulary being used amongst the employees now, and as new participants attend the course, they help to refresh the content for those that attended it previously.”  

See more information on “C3 Accelerate” here.