Victorian Food Industry Training Board - Your independant voice

Congratulations to SPC Ardmona and the Australian Miscellaneous Workers Union


Article by VFITB and Nick Bartholomew, SPCA

These two organisations have won the Victorian Training Award 2011 for the Industry Collaboration Award. Nick Bartholomew from SPCA and Tom Hale from the AMWU, and VFITB Executive Committee member, took to the stage with Les Cameron from training company National Food Institute to accept this inaugural award.

It was heartening to see a new award that recognises skills development with adult workers in industry as many of the other categories are oriented to the youth training sector.

SPCArdmona (SPCA), has some 690 permanent employees and processes fruit and vegetable products in the Victorian regional towns of Shepparton, Mooroopna and Kyabram. Yes a recent announcement confirmed the closing of the Mooroopna plant but Shepparton will be upgraded.

In 2009 the company offered a training program to 420 permanent production and distribution employees. According to SPCA’s employee engagement and training manager, Nick Bartholomew, these workers were skilled in how to do their jobs but lacking in the knowledge and theory underpinning their competency. “Basically, they knew ‘how’, but didn’t know ‘why’,” he said. Nick explains below the process and company benefits of the program.

“An initial step was to develop a strategy linking training with employee classifications and pay rates, and then a training plan and training bonus was written into a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement negotiated with union support from the AMWU. Advice from Skills Victoria was obtained in relation to eligibility and the training process, and the National Food Institute was selected as the registered training organisation to provide the training.

“149 of the original 162 employees that commenced the Certificate III in Food Processing or the Transport and Logistics training program, are continuing on in 2011 as they see the benefits for the business and themselves. The Standard Operating Procedures that were formally written during the training programs means that knowledge from the heads of SPCA’s mature workforce has been captured in written documents.”

“Other benefits include improved communication between workers and a decrease in the lost time injury frequency rate from 21 to 13. The program has also contributed to a 50% reduction in manufacturing variances.”

The VFITB has recently worked with members of the Baking Training Network to encourage more nominations from the food sector, for the 2012 Awards.

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