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Client Awards

Congratulations to our clients and tutors who have been awarded for their achievements in workplace literacy and numeracy training this year by Skills Highway. The Skills Highway Champion Awards formally recognise and showcase the work of some of the many champions across the sector. The Skills Highway Champion Awards are open to all those who are involved in activities encompassed by the TEC’s Workplace Literacy and Numeracy Fund.


Dempsey Wood

Awards - FilisiHighly Commended as a Champion Employer and Filisi Neli – a winner in the Champion Learner category and winner of the Skills Highway Supreme Champion Award

Becoming a leader of people might sound like a cliche. However, this is exactly what made Felisi stand out from his team colleagues. He was all about ‘others’.  He took responsibility for ensuring the team showed up for class. During the sessions, he would always give an idea here or there to enhance the learning for all. An example was during an exercise on measurement when he suggested: ‘why don’t we have our concrete guy come and talk to us about how they measure a whole streetscape?’

What does this have to do with his learning? It enhanced how he learned. Being responsible for everyone learning made his learning seem very do-able. Having his attention on all the others somehow created an environment where everyone kept an eye on everyone else. So his learning was facilitated by that of others, which he had himself assisted with. That is what is so unique in his learning journey. Like the world of ‘ako’ – teaching and learning became subsumed in the community and learners became teachers and teachers became learners. All led by Filisi.


Awards - Evolution Evolution Traffic Management

Josefo (Sefo) McNamara Tael – Highly Commended in the Champion Learner category

Sefo (pictured left with Onehunga librarian, Lucy Tsun) consistently engaged with the topics in the programme, sharing his insights with humility.  He is warm and responsive to others and volunteered for tasks others may have been unwilling to perform.  He has become increasingly adept at solving problems, using techniques such as the 5 Whys and 5W1H.  At the start of the course, he expressed feeling ‘less useful’ than the others, since he hadn’t been in the company for long.  However as his confidence grew, he demonstrated consistently excellent teamwork. Unobtrusively taking the lead without taking over. This was particularly evident in the team’s projects– a video showing coning-out distances, another video for putting on a harness, and posters showing PPE gear for coning-out.



Awards - HEB GroupHEB Construction

Highly commended for the Skills Highway Innovation Award

For learners participating in the Upskills Safe Stories programme at HEB construction in Christchurch, supporting mental health and wellbeing was a passion. The course was an opportunity for the learners to develop a new initiative, W4W or “Wellbeing for Work”, which they presented to the senior management group. This innovation was driven by an opportunity to use and apply problem-solving and critical thinking skills developed in the course to a workplace health and safety issue. W4W promotes checking on yourself and checking on your mates. The initial concept involved developing a Warrant of Fitness type sticker. These would be placed in every vehicle and machine as a visual prompt for team members to check how they’re feeling before operating machinery. This is an innovative workplace health initiative with a real focus on mental wellbeing.

A proposed series of cards for every vehicle accompanies the stickers. These cards give information and actions to take for anyone in need of support and for others to offer support. The information would range from phone numbers to practical suggestions, such as checking someone’s had lunch, a drink or a break. Supporting this idea is establishing regular activities that would bring the wider team closer. These reduce isolation and make it easier for someone to speak up if they need to. This pilot programme will be tested in Christchurch before being reviewed and then potentially rolled out nationwide. It’s an authentic, ground roots innovation that will further promote the wellbeing of HEB employees. HEB has also created the Safe People CHCH Collateral Design artwork that will help establish and promote this programme.


Awards - LHFLife Health Foods

Winner of the Champion Employer Award

Life Health Foods has worked with the Employer-led Workplace Literacy and Numeracy Fund for the past two years. It boosted the language, literacy and numeracy of over 80 of its 150 multicultural factory staff based at Rosebank Road in Avondale.  Operations Manager Peter Suisted has been a champion of the fund, believing in its power to grow people’s confidence and build a base skill of literacy and numeracy. This can be built on to enable staff to succeed in all elements of their job and beyond. The programme tackled issues from feeling confident enough to speak to others in the lunchroom to using strategies to make sure instructions have been understood correctly.

Hearing feedback from all levels of this business is critical to be open to different perspectives. As well as to hear timely feedback when it comes to raising issues around quality and health and safety. One learner commented,” I’ve begun to raise points in meetings, which I wasn’t doing before the course.” For others, it’s engaging with core site-related material on production metrics and targets: “Maybe before, I saw these charts but I wouldn’t haven’t known what they meant.  Now I understand them.”

The potential of individuals and teams shines through the Team Supreme platform, says Peter.  Groups come together with managers halfway through the programme to share ideas for improvement projects and reflect on the learning takeaways for them so far. Getting everyone around the table to acknowledge and support this learning journey is powerful and motivating within itself. “The programme can open up doors for people that before were out of reach,” says Peter.  Beyond this, it’s helped the business visualise succession planning. It opened up senior managers to the sometimes hidden talents existing within the team.  Crucial for individual and business success.

Life Health Foods has a strong focus on sustained learning. Taking learners to the local library was a part of the Team Supreme programme. Digital learning apps, multilingual resources and activities for the kids were shared. Nearly 90% of participants joined the library.  Pathways Awarua and other digital next steps are a key part of ongoing learning and next steps conversations as Life Health Foods continues to grow and develop its team.  In the pipeline for next year are plans to embed a Level 2 Certificate in Food and Beverage Manufacturing into training opportunities for learners wanting to climb the career ladder.


Awards - Prabh SinghPrabhsharanjit Singh – Highly Commended in the Champion Workplace Support/Mentor category

Since taking part in the Life Health Foods Workplace Communication programme for leaders, Prabh has grown and rapidly developed his skills as a leader during and after completion of this course. The Life Health Foods management team has been thrilled to see Prabh’s growth in confidence, knowledge and how he applies skills learnt. It has resulted in a very positive difference in his area of responsibility.

In particular, Prabh’s improved communication skills stand out. Although aware of what Emotional Intelligence (EQ) meant, the inclusion of this topic in the course and participating in role plays grew his full understanding of himself and how best to engage and lead his team. A strong element of Prabh’s approach to his role has been the recognition of the learning and development needs of individual team members. Through mentoring and guiding team members to participate in available training to improve their communication, technical and organizational skills we see an organized, more focused and engaged team.

Having participated in the programme, Prabh has been fully supportive of his team to join workplace communication skills training. He has juggled operational needs to make it easy for them to attend their sessions. Prabh has supported and encouraged their learning, and mentored them through project ideas and problem-solving discussions. His mentoring of team members has extended to advanced technical programmes essential for the growth of the business. This has allowed individuals to step up to more complex roles. With enhanced EQ, patience and involvement of support teams, the consistent performance of Prabh’s department is something others have recognized and commended.


Awards - Jeannette BamurangeJeannete Bamurange – Highly Commended in the Champion Learner category

Jeannete grew in confidence and ability during the programme and was an example of a learner keen to apply what she has learnt in class to improve her role at work.  She is proactive and diligent about growing her English vocabulary and applying it to her workplace. For example, taking notes at recent in-house health and safety training of ‘new-to-her’ vocabulary and peer teaching this to the class. She also took notes from class to work on at home in her own time so she can put these into practice.

She is always enthusiastic and open to new ideas on communicating with her work colleagues. Jeanette has given us examples of how she has softened her approach compared to before.  She is a great listener and encourages her fellow learners in class.  This extends to the factory floor where Jeannete has gained confidence in passing her knowledge and skills to teammates.  She now feels comfortable to explain machinery issues to engineers in a professional manner. She also demonstrates tasks and trains less experienced staff.  Her head of department has commented on her leadership potential. It is great to see how she is applying her workplace literacy and numeracy at work.


Awards - MoanaMoana New Zealand

Winner in the Champion Learner Group category

Beverly Samoa, Steve Mowbray, Kovi Tufui, Christina Poluleuligaga and  Ian Faleono from Moana Oysters – Wiri made up a group that was ready and open for change. They wanted to transform their leadership and supervisory style to elicit the best from the workers. In every session, they tackled some very difficult issues that they did not know how to deal with. Through discussion, telling the ‘truth’ about their shortcomings and being responsible for that, there was a transformation of this group that a lesson plan can never capture.

They grew as people as they modelled new behaviours. Leading by example, they modelled teamwork in the factory by quick meetings daily. Walking their talk, they brought a light-hearted approach to tool-box vs a top-down autocratic model. Respect – they showed and modelled respect in EVERY interaction with their staff, no matter what they were dealing with in those interactions. They began to embody what they were learning, grappling with how it looks during their class time and putting it in action on the factory floor. Doing so altered the whole culture of the company.


Thompson's - Skills Highway Champions AwardThompson’s Horticulture

Robert Barbarich – Highly Commended in the Champion Learner category

From the outset, Robert showed a willingness to encourage others and to help them find their own voices. Despite being okay one-on-one, he needed more confidence to speak up in a group. At each class, Robert embraced the opportunity to learn and to gain more confidence. He participated in group scenarios, took part in front of class role-plays, and always responded to the gentle tutor encouragement to speak up. We saw his leadership skills emerging during group work on an ‘innovation’ idea, as he asked open questions and guided team members. He even came up with a way to engage one shy class learner in the group presentation. Revealing his inclusive nature and ability to problem-solve for a win-win outcome. Consequently, the learner felt included yet was not pushed beyond what he felt safe to do.

The culmination of this confidence-building journey was Robert standing in front of his peers as he led them through training on his system for recording hours and job codes. It improved ease and accuracy when completing timesheets. He listened to questions, offered clarifying answers, and drew on the whiteboard to illustrate. All as his group of peers watched, listened and made notes.

Robert has a desire to be an all-rounder for Thompson’s, to learn all tasks so he knows the entire production process from start to finish. His self-stated motivator is the satisfaction he receives from being a part of the fruit production process. Robert has made significant progress during the GROW workplace training and is well-deserving of this award. As a recipient, he will make a positive role model for his colleagues. A valuable employee, he has already demonstrated a willingness to support his peers toward higher levels of performance.


Awards - BrinksVan Den Brink Poultry

Gwen Adams – Highly Commended in the Champion Learner category

Gwen Adams is a Charge Hand at Brinks Poultry. She was at first very sceptical about what the course could do for her, arriving last to the first session. Gwen found herself shouting out instructions on the floor and thought that being tough on her team was the way to drive results.

Today, Gwen is quite a different person. In her words, “I own my behaviour now. There’s no point being negative. Empathy – that’s what I practise.” Her workmates have all noticed the change and Gwen says her whanau have also told her the same. Gwen leads by values. She knows she is accountable for her actions and takes ownership of her communication. She was not able to send texts or email before but now is confident communicating in these ways. Gwen is now the first to show up in class.  She is also co-leading the team projects on extending the production line and designing a more productive workspace.


Waste Management NZ

Caleb Ahu – Highly Commended in the Champion Learner category

Caleb Ahu used to workaround the literacy demands of his role at Waste Management. As a trusted 2IC and Business Unit Instructor (BUI), Caleb would steer away from tasks that required him to fully engage with workplace literacy skills. Caleb holds significant mana in his organisation, running motivating Toolbox meetings (often in te Reo Māori and English). These keep his team engaged and importantly safe.

When it came to taking part in the ‘Setting the Standard’ programme, an embedded LLN and technology piece for business unit instructors at Waste Management. Caleb was unsure if it was for him. Throughout the Business Instructor Workshops held in the LNI central region, Caleb offered sound and workable advice that was pragmatic and relevant to the BI role and his cohorts. This advice and input allowed the Upskills team to then take the learnings from the LNI pilot workshops to other locations around the organisation. It resulted in a highly successful program enjoyed by all.

In essence, Caleb embodied the principles of ako in his workplace and this has paid off for him and his colleagues. His tutor, Michelle, comments, “Once he understood the outcomes of the course, Caleb fully embraced the programme. He developed a passion for contributing to the development of a consistent system that would raise the bar for Business Unit Instructors across the country. Putting into place things learnt during the course. For example, practising giving and receiving feedback. To cap it off, Caleb lifted his LNAAT reading significantly compared to pre-course results.”


Upskills Awards

Congratulations to our trainers, Lancy Chua and Tina Drummond – both Highly Commended in the Champion New Trainer category

Tina DrummondSonia McAllister, Thompson’s Human Resources Manager, nominated Tina Drummond. She found Tina’s mix of warmth, agility and energy to be one of a kind. Having Tina made the programme successful both for Thompson’s and its employees. She was accommodating and fears of funded training being too prescriptive for Thompson’s have diminished. Working closely with Upskills co-ordinator Korelli Mulitalo, Tina continuously tailored the training to meet the needs of the company and built strong relationships with the employees involved.

Sonia was able to truly see the benefit of having Upskills partner with the company through the innovation ideas presented at the mid-way point. Staff presented issues very similar to those recently discussed by the management team – really good and genuine alignment. Leaners commented “Tina makes learning fun,” “Tina breaks everything down for us”. She made sure they interacted and shared best practice. She also presented simulating real-life challenges that the workers experience in their day to day duties. They then worked as a team to discuss how to overcome these.

Our programme Co-ordinator Korelli Mulitalo says Tina has been able to relate to learners from all walks of life. She has clearly shown commitment to making a difference to them. She brings her whole self to the class and brings real experience, passion, a caring nature, energy and fun. Making learning very interactive and real.


Awards - Lancy ChuaJane De Ville, Procurement and Planning Manager at Van Den Brink Poultry, nominated Lancy Chua. Lancy’s efforts at the beginning of the course to develop a rapport with her learners impressed Jane. Lancy also spent time with both Jane and Brink’s HR Manager. Explaining and providing context around the on-line literacy & numeracy tool. Lancy’s whole approach was in Jane’s words ‘quite holistic’.

Upskills Ltd.

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