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Case Study: Canterbury Spinners

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Last updated 26 October 2012 15:29 by NZTecAdmin

Canterbury Spinners

As a division of Godfrey Hirst New Zealand Limited, Canterbury Spinners employs about 290 employees. These include unskilled and unqualified operators, as well as technically qualified staff. The company supplies yarn to carpet factories in both New Zealand and Australia. The company was aware that there was a literacy and numeracy need amongst their employees.


“We have a high proportion of immigrants and New Zealanders who have limited education and this holds them back from promotion,” says Human Resources Manager Karen Treloar.


Therefore the company initially contacted the Department of Labour, and as a result of this contracted Wilkinson’s English Language School. The school undertook a literacy needs analysis to determine where there were issues.
As a result of analysis, the company developed a range of aims for the programme. These were to:

  • increase staff satisfaction and loyalty
  • enable staff to progress within the company
  • give staff basic computer skills
  • increase capability and confidence of oral communication skills of the staff who have English as a second language
  • increase staff participation in meetings and other channels of communication
  • develop numeracy skills employees need in their jobs
  • assist staff with current industry training courses.

The course was offered to 50 people (partly in work time and partly outside work hours) over a 45-week period. Sixteen undertook a computer course and 34 a literacy and numeracy course. A Department of Labour evaluation of the course showed that most of the workers felt that their skills had improved as a result of the course.

The following are some quotes from participants:

  • “As a team leader I have to speak every morning - now I feel more comfortable doing it”
  • “It upped my English reading and computer skills”
  • “It was a good challenge writing a [technical] report.”

The improvement in their skills has also led to an improvement in workplace practices. These improvements included:

  • communications (“I'm a better talker, I understand what they say, I ask more questions”)
  • paperwork (“Now I can fill in the book myself”)
  • computer skills (“I can use the intranet and internet”)
  • maths (“I don't have to use my fingers. I can work out how many there are on a pallet by multiplying rows”).

The workers also showed increases in job satisfaction, job confidence and how they rated the company as a place to work. “This is all great news for us,” said Karen Treloar.

She says that supervisors are also noticing changes with the course participants in a range of workplace behaviours.


“They confirm the improvements in workers’ understanding of verbal instructions, workplace maths tasks and completion of paper work. We are also seeing changes in behaviours that make supervisors’ roles easier, such as workers requiring less supervision and being more willing to attempt tasks.”


The company is so pleased with what has happened as a result of this course that they are going to continue with a second phase of the programme.


“We’re going to make some changes based on what we’ve learnt from this course. We’re looking to blocks of 15 weeks, incorporation of unit standards, and the literacy, language and numeracy skills to be taught will be embedded into the workplace context,” says Treloar.





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