Some of Australia’s critical infrastructure is thanks to the work of engineering, construction and maintenance company John Holland Group, including rail track.
Track work runs to a tight schedule, so good communication, documentation and information technology skills are essential for workers’ safety and productivity.
John Holland’s Rail is rolling out these skills to its 199-strong workforce in NSW through the Workplace English Language and Literacy (WELL) Program.
The program offers funding, brokered by the Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council (TLISC), for training in comprehension and communication skills.
The training complements studies towards Certificate IIIs and IVs as well as ensuring workers can, more broadly, meet current and future job needs.
“It’s an industry a lot of people got into because they didn’t like or struggled at school. They just found the rail industry was one that would take all types of people,” Landi says.
Scholastic skills weren’t thought of as important as most training took place on track where people would learn by sight and “just make it work”, Landi says.
“We had capable people within the business, but I don’t think they had seen that within themselves because they were put off by the paperwork.
“But what we’re seeing now with the WELL Program is that guys we’ve identified as future leaders have jumped on board and seen it’s not a big step up.
“They’re putting their hands up, saying ‘I want to be part of that course, I want to lead the guys’ … and because they are part of a team, the guys are taking notice.”
They just found the rail industry was one that would take all types of people.
Through tutor Suzanne Blakemore, John Holland Rail has shown its workers how to apply language, literacy and numeracy skills to computing and report writing.
“The guys write task risk assessments, and have for years. They’d put in ‘slips, trips, falls’ which didn’t really always attribute to the real risk at hand” Landi says.
“Overall the benefit from the WELL program has seen a vast improvement from the guys in the field and how they conduct and complete their day to day works, especially when it comes to paperwork and task risk assessments.”
“Now they realise they don’t have to write a lot, it doesn’t have to be War and Peace, just what the risk is and what they need to do about reducing the risk.”
- John Holland Rail is part of John Holland Group, which employs 6,500 employees nationally and oversees $6.4 billion of projects
- There are 199 staff in the Rail Business Unit – New South Wales, where the Workplace English Language and Literacy (WELL) Program is in place
- 124 John Holland Rail staff, mainly in Sydney and the Hunter Valley near Newcastle, have completed WELL training to date
- NSW depots also provide support crews to multiple sites across Queensland and Victoria, with 10 projects currently underway in the eastern states
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