Earlier this month, Skills Highway hosted the Workplace Literacy and Numeracy Forum in Christchurch.
Like me, you might not have been there.
Luckily for us both, Skills Highway posted all the content on their website.
I might not have been able to enjoy any networking at the event, but at least I could take some lessons from the notes on their website. Cheers to Skills Highway!
A story of productivity
The Tertiary Education Commission funds Workplace Literacy and Numeracy programmes through – you guessed it – the Workplace Literacy and Numeracy Fund.
The TEC’s presentation set out the four points that a high quality application to the Fund should address. At their core, they’re all about productivity.
Spot the productivity cues in red. (That’s my emphasis.)
- “A clear articulation of the employer’s productivity opportunities or problems that literacy and numeracy training can address
- Understanding and measurement of employee practices that need to change to improve productivity
- Assessment of literacy and numeracy levels pre- and post-training intervention
- Understanding and reporting of personal outcomes for employees that then contribute to a higher performing workplace.”
Financial literacy plays a big part in productivity
Dr Pushpa Wood is the Director of the Westpac Massey Financial Education and Resource Centre.
She pointed to research that shows:
…a financially capable workforce is more satisfied, more engaged, and more productive for their employers.
A 2014 study found that financial stress is the top source of stress for 71% of employees, and this has a negative impact on employee productivity.
It’s hardly surprising. How can you focus on your work when your job is barely paying your bills! Employers could of course increase their salaries. That would soon stop financial stress.
Or perhaps financial literacy tuition for the workplace would be more effective. According to one study, it can provide a $3 return on investment for every dollar spent.
(See here for more on this).
Partner up and level up
Collaboration is key! That’s pretty much the catch-cry from every conference I’ve ever been to.
In our context, we have two key types of organisations:
- Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) who support different industries with each industry’s specific skills
- Literacy and Numeracy Providers (like us, Adult Learning Support).
Some ITOs and literacy and numeracy providers are establishing partnerships or strengthening existing relationships to deploy places in the Workplace Literacy and Numeracy Fund in a mutually beneficial way.
We’re a little bit behind on this, so it’s something for us to focus on for next year.
The important thing to remember is that we’re both serving the same people, so we need to collaborate to provide them with a more comprehensive service.
So what’s good practice in setting up a partnership?Here are the recommendations from the Skills Highway Forum with my reactions below.
Develop a formal partnership/MoU
In my experience, formal partnerships are a waste of time unless you’ve worked together before already.
The first step should always be to work together on a project or client. Test the waters and figure out if the relationship is worthwhile. Then decide whether you want to commit to a formal partnership.
Relationships and trust take time
Sure do! Not much to disagree or agree with there.
Use ITO expertise to offer pathway advice
Great point. This really is just about each party respecting and drawing onthe other’s expertise. ITOs have deep knowledge in their industry or industries. Literacy and numeracy providers are all about the core skills that cut across all industries.
The partnership can be a pipeline for and to ITOs
Just as it can be a pipeline for and to Literacy and Numeracy Providers. Which, of course, means the relationship is mutually beneficial.
‘Speak as one’ to the employer and provide a solution.”
This, I think, is one of the more important recommendations form the Forum. It’s also something we’re currently not doing at all.
Many of the businesses I meet talk to me about their ITO. They trust them. And they are often reluctant to deal with us because they’re already dealing with one training organisation. Why should they bother with another?
Get in touch and let’s improve workplace literacy
The key takeaways for me are:
- Incorporate financial literacy into our offering to workplaces
- Partner up with ITOs to reach more workplace learners.
There are more gems in the Workplace Literacy and Numeracy Forum. Like the session on setting up a consortium (a group of businesses) to apply to the Fund. Or the session on regional issues for the South Island.
If you’re an ITO or a workplace, get in touch with me (Paul McGregor) or our manager (Cameron Forbes). We’re always keen to talk about how we can improve the productivity of workplaces through better literacy and numeracy.