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Smarter Together

Ritchies Smarter Together learners

Jumping on the upskilling bus for the Ritchies team has meant an awesome boost in language, confidence and the skills required to deal with day-to-day transport technology. 96 places were made available on the Smarter Together learning programme so the Ritchies learners from across the country participated, from Whangarei to Timaru.

Ritchies started from humble beginnings in 1935 in the small town of Temuka and is now a nationwide business with teams and depots all around New Zealand. From that first bus many years ago, Ritchies has built up a diverse fleet of over 1,600 vehicles and around 2,000 dedicated employees, all focused on providing the best customer experience.

Route planning, handling the RT comms, and managing noisy kids on the school bus are all in a day’s work for the team. This iconic Kiwi business wanted to support its staff to develop and be their best with a communication-based workplace literacy and numeracy project.

That’s where the team at Upskills got involved, spending time with key staff in the business to understand where the specific opportunities to shift the dial on the important metrics were, and then designing interactive learning.

Ritchies Smarter Together course participants

Participants learned to

    • Improve their understanding of locality and place names, particularly for bus drivers with English as a Second Language

    • Handle RT comms with confidence

    • Manage wellbeing and stress in a dynamic public-facing environment

    • Handle communication and queries from the public

    • Navigate the 24-hour clock with ease

    • Improve their digital confidence

    • Put ideas forward to make the company processes and culture better

Ritchies Smarter Together learners

What participants had to say

Standing up to give a formal presentation of ideas represented huge personal growth in confidence for Esau Tumua at the Takanini depot.

“I never thought I would be standing here to present, especially in English,” said Esau.

We all take our phones for granted, but the chance to delve into more functions and build confidence in a safe learning environment has paid off for Junjie Yuan.

“ I really needed this course, I now use my phone more not just with my boss but to communicate with my family.”

Confidence in pronouncing street names on her routes was key for Swanson participant Zhixue Cheng.

“I learnt so much,” she says.  “ Especially how to speak properly using the RT and how to say road names properly because some of the roads are in Māori and I found it hard to pronounce but now I can.”

For Jagdish Oza, it’s built confidence in English language ability.

“This course has helped me learn more English words, and made me feel more confident, I really have enjoyed this course and we should have all the drivers come to the course”

Ritchies Smarter Together learners

Key outcomes

    • 83% of the participants feel more confident with understanding key staff communication messaging since they started training

    • 86% of the participants feel more confident about communicating at work through speaking and using the RT since starting training

    • 95% of the participants are more confident understanding digits on a clock or digital formats since starting training

    • Improved performance: Drivers show improved performance in their roles as Urban and MOE Drivers. They apply the knowledge gained during the training to enhance their work quality and efficiency.

    Ritchies Smarter Together group

    And managers have noticed a positive difference.  As Tim Briscoe, Birkenhead Manager says,

    “A bit more confidence and self-belief makes a huge change for people. That’s exactly what Smarter Together provided. The biggest change I see is their confidence levels increasing. This goes with everything they do both inside and outside of work,” says Tim.

    The Timaru depot runs local buses and community transport ‘My Way’ around the South Canterbury district.  Local Manager Crystal Garchow was excited to offer Smarter Together to the Timaru crew.

    “Previously reserved staff members have become more confident in voicing their opinions and actively participating in discussions,” says Crystal.  “This newfound confidence has enriched their learning experience and fostered a more collaborative and engaged team environment.”

    “Moreover, participants have demonstrated a deeper understanding of our operational processes and a heightened awareness of health and safety protocols both in the workplace and at home. This enhanced knowledge will undoubtedly contribute to a safer and more efficient work environment for us all,” reflects Crystal.

    For Sunny Nackier, based in Auckland’s Albany depot, the changes are obvious:

    “The participants can clearly and calmly communicate in the RT,” says Sunny. “They feel more confident talking to the supervisors and explaining issues.”

    Read more

    About our Workplace Literacy and Numeracy Course

    Ritchies Thursday Group - Smarter Together course


Upskills Ltd.

Address: 93 Church St, Onehunga, Auckland 1061
Free parking: 120 minutes, Gerrard Beeson Pl.
Phone: 09 622 3979