Spotless staff celebrate Stepping Stones graduation
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Ten determined Wanganui Hospital-based Spotless staff received loud applause when their friends, colleagues and family members gathered at a morning tea yesterday to celebrate their completion of the new Stepping Stones literacy, language and numeracy skills course.
 
To show their support for the graduates Spotless senior managers Simon Lipscombe and Vaughan Biggs travelled from Auckland with the company’s training manager Barbara Gaston who developed and managed the 20-week Stepping Stones course for the Whanganui and MidCentral District Health Boards.
 
A joint venture between Spotless and the government-funded Workplace Literacy Fund, the course enables adult students to attend onsite, work-time training sessions which they back up with assignments completed in their own time.
 
“It is having a significant impact on our staff members’ confidence,” says Spotless Regional Manager Peter Birch.
 
“For most Whanganui students, English is their first language but for one reason or another they’ve struggled with reading, writing and basic maths and until now, many have been reluctant to address this.
 
“When we offered them the opportunity to study together and support each other they jumped at the chance and it’s pleasing to see class sizes increasing nationwide.”
 
Peter says apart from two students who left the course, everyone had finished with flying colours.
 
The impetus for government workplace literacy funding arose from the International Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALLS) conducted in 2006. Surprisingly, the survey showed 43% of New Zealanders aged 16 to 65 were unable to read and write at the level required by modern society and 80% of those affected were in the workforce.
 
Under the centralAlliance agreement Spotless is contracted to both the Whanganui and MidCentral District Health Boards where the Stepping Stones programme is run simultaneously. The MidCentral DHB graduation ceremony was a lunchtime event held in Palmerston North yesterday.
 
The Whanganui graduates were: Sherryl Gaskin, Joanne Hiroti, Susan Fox-Wallace, Raewyn Crawford, Karen Lawrie, Usha Nand Rupia-Lee Peterson, Ayesha Noor, Sheralyn Hipango and Kim Hemana.