City Care

City Care, a leading provider of construction, maintenance and management services, introduced literacy and numeracy training to assist its employees in transitioning to new technologies and different roles.

The company works around the clock – building, maintaining and managing our nation's parks, gardens, sports fields and cemeteries, waterways and coastal areas, buildings and public facilities, roading networks and water, wastewater and stormwater networks. Its head office is in Christchurch and it has 15 offices throughout New Zealand.

Established in 1999, it has grown to employ more than 1550 people operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

City Care initially introduced literacy and numeracy training in 2010 because as technology became more prevalent, it found that people transitioning from field work into supervisory roles required support to ensure they had all the skills to do their jobs.

Pat O’Brien, Industrial Training Manager, says: “Effectively, we were taking tools out of their hands and replacing them with laptops, through which they received all kinds of information they needed to be able to interpret. It’s a pretty big shift and we recognised that some training in key skills like literacy and numeracy would be a good way to support our people.”

In addition, they also felt that literacy barriers were a serious concern when it came to employees understanding and following health and safety requirements.

Initially City Care appointed a consortium of literacy and numeracy education providers, including McGirr, Sadler & Associates and Horowhenua Adult Literacy, with Hagley Adult Literacy Centre as the lead agency.

“Although delivery of training was slightly varied around the country, due to different providers running things in different branches, overall it still worked really well,” Pat says.

“In our North Island branches, the training was run in groups with teams learning together. Whereas down in Christchurch, Hagley ran the training on a one-on-one basis with learning tailored to the individual.”  

Pat reports literacy and numeracy training has contributed to definite increases in City Care’s overall productivity and staff engagement. He says: “We also picked up the Skills Highway Award for 2012, which we were really pleased with.”

Looking to the future, City Care plans to continue its literacy and numeracy training as a key part of its business. According to Rebecca Baigent, Organisational Development Manager: “We’re looking to work with Literacy Aotearoa in the future, which will help us provide national, consistent coverage. We’re also shifting to a more ‘learner-led’ approach, with tailored learning plans for each person who receives literacy and numeracy training.”