A social enterprise is working to help raise the literacy and numeracy skills of its workers, many of whom were provided few opportunities to learn when they were younger, improving their ability to perform in the workplace.
Cargill Enterprises, based in Dunedin, employs 89 people with intellectual and physical disabilities, providing them with jobs doing work ranging from timber processing to e-waste decommissioning, food packing and assembly services.
Many of these employees are older and were institutionalised as children and provided few opportunities to learn, and Dunedin lacks tertiary study options which accommodate people with intellectual disabilities. So, two years ago Cargill Enterprises started to institute policies and programmes which would allow their employees to further their learning while at work.
The organisation’s first attempt was an online programme through a tertiary provider, but for a number of reasons this was not a success. Then, Cargill Enterprises was approached by The Good Training Company, a specialist training provider for people with intellectual disabilities.
Based on analysis of the demands of the workplace and the employees, Cargill Enterprises decided that the programme had to:
- Be voluntary rather than prescriptive
- Be completed in paid work time
- Utilise online tools which would move people towards autonomous learning while building digital literacy skills
- Include both workplace and personal goals
- Involve groups of maximum three people, as one-to-one time is often missing from these employees’ lives
- Provide learning from experience and fun, as employees often had negative memories of education
- Provide paid peer support by a person who also has an intellectual disability and has completed a similar programme
The first programme of this nature started in February 2017. Funding was approved for it to run again in June 2017 and February 2018. The programme has also grown from 44 hours of training to 82 hours, and now includes Unit Standards.