Taylor Preston

Improved safety at work and better staff engagement were two of the reasons Taylor Preston introduced workplace literacy and numeracy training.

Māori and Pasifika people make up eighty-five percent of the company’s workforce, and with 14 languages spoken onsite a significant proportion of employees speak English as a second language. Taylor Preston realised literacy and numeracy training would be helpful for its staff to be safe at work and also engaged with the company and its vision.

Training was introduced to the staff as a communication skills programme, with much of the learning being linked to work through lessons involving company manuals and standard operating procedures.

In the first year, Taylor Preston enlisted Hagley Adult Literacy Centre to run the initial needs assessment, and then contracted McGirr to provide the training. In the second year, the company hired an in-house trainer, and in the third year it worked with Land Base Training and a particularly excellent tutor named Pip Paaka.

Carolyn Thomson, HR Manager, says: “A lot depends on the quality of the tutor. That’s what has the biggest impact on the success of the training. Pip would sometimes work at two in the morning for us, she was so flexible.”

“Probably the hardest thing we had to deal with was balancing the need for training with finding the right times to release people from their work to attend – that is always a challenge.”

The results have been well worth it, though. Carolyn says: “People who have done the training have more confidence to speak up and negotiate when they need to. They are also much better at resolving conflict and communicating to each other and their managers – we’ve seen a real reduction in internal conflict between people.”

Carolyn also says there have been positive results in terms of health and safety, through people better understanding instructions and requirements, and increase in general staff engagement.  

She also says that five of Taylor Preston’s employees went on to do a full level 1 qualification in meat processing.

Taylor Preston continues to embed literacy and numeracy training in its inductions, and is currently exploring options for funding to continue targeted training for its people into the future.