About a dozen shipbuilders in Williamstown are participating in weekly spelling, grammar and reading classes in an innovative partnership between Victoria University and BAE Systems, Australia's largest defence contractor.
The boilermakers, welders and their assistants are part of the Maritime Division of BAE Systems' 6500-strong national workforce. For some, English is a second language, while others have endured long-held literacy gaps.
Every Wednesday afternoon, participants trade worksites for the classroom to attend VU's Workplace English Language and Literacy (WELL) program, giving up an hour of their own time, and taking an hour of BAE Systems' time.
WELL Coordinator Karen Fitzsimons said the men were highly motivated learners and had made great progress since starting the program in April.
"They look forward to it as something different during the week. We work on areas many have wanted to improve, but haven't had the time or the opportunity," she said.
BAE Training Instructor Estelle Thomson said participants' confidence levels had greatly improved through the customised training that centres on occupational health and safety topics.
"They are all much more proficient in completing forms and reading safety signs now, and much more willing to speak up in the workplace," she said.
The media are invited to visit the class. Due to BAE Systems' security regulations, they MUST register before their visit: Contact Estelle Thomson, BAE Training Instructor and Developer on 9334 8528.
What: BAE Systems staff participating in VU literacy training
Where: BAE Systems Australia, Maritime Business Unit, Building 9, Nelson Place, Williamstown
When: Wednesday 24 November at 2.00pm
WELL Program Contact:
Workplace English Language and Literacy (WELL) Co-ordinator
Ph: (03) 9919-8856 or Mobile 0435 960 420.
Ann Marie Angebrandt, Media Officer,
VU Marketing and Communications Department,
Ph: (03) 9919 5487 or 0403 556 001.