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Maths and English training on the menu

One of the UK’s leading food manufacturers has turned to Telford College to help boost the functional maths and English skills of its colleagues.

Avara Foods supplies chicken, turkey and duck to some of the biggest supermarkets and restaurants in the country. It has eight processing plants across the UK, including a base at Hortonwood in Telford, and employs people from many different countries.

Telford College is delivering a series of individual and group functional skills sessions, which have all been specifically tailored to the needs of Avara Foods’ colleagues. The fast-track programme takes place on the company’s premises, with Telford College providing tutors to work with both the daytime and night shifts.

Avara Foods says it is working with Telford College because it wants to ensure all staff have a level of written and spoken English which enables them to work effectively and feel safe and secure in their position.

“We want people to have the opportunity to develop their careers further, and a common language being spoken brings teams together,” the company says.

Telford College has worked closely with Avara Foods’ senior people development partner, Claire Withers, on the new functional skills programme.

She said: “Functional skills training not only supports those individuals who need to improve their English, but also gives talented individuals the opportunity to progress into roles they may not have otherwise been able to, due to their undeveloped English skills. We aim to be a truly inclusive place to work, so we hope by supporting colleagues in this way, they will also find benefits in their lives outside Avara with their families and in their local communities.”

Leila James, HR manager at Telford, said: “It’s important to us to have a functional skills programme on-site, so that colleagues can develop their English during working hours. It’s part of our commitment to supporting employee development at all levels.

“The programme has given our colleagues the opportunity to not only develop confidence in their use of the English, but also to enhance their skills, open up opportunities for progression and promotion, and support the site succession planning.

“Working in conjunction with Telford College, we have also developed a pre-entry course offering a foundation in English skills. This really recognises the diversity of our workforce and supports our values of being inclusive, ambitious and excelling to individuals.”

Adrian Curelaru is one of those who has benefited from the training. He said: “Completing these functional skills qualifications has allowed me to apply for better jobs at Avara Foods, to work on more technical production lines and move up the company. Before, I was a production operative, and now I’m a line leader.”

Another worker, Katarzyna Trojak, said: “Completing my functional skills qualifications in English has meant I have been able to move from production into an employment liaison officer role. I can now speak two languages, and I’m using it to my benefit.”

Susan Gomer, Telford College’s assistant principal for employer engagement, said: “Basic English and maths skills are the foundation for pretty much every modern-day career, opening up the widest possible range of job opportunities, and higher-level education choices. That’s why we are delighted to be partnering with Avara Foods to give their teams the best possible opportunities to progress their careers.

“So far, Telford College has delivered this new functional skills training to more than 160 Avara Foods colleagues, across its sites in Telford, Hereford and Newent. We are also expanding this to another of the company’s sites in Derbyshire and Dudley in the new year.”

Telford College has a working partnership with Avara Foods dating back more than a decade. It has delivered tailored educational training, functional skills learning and apprenticeships, helping colleagues progress in their roles, develop professionally and enhance their careers.

Pictured: At Avara Foods in Telford are, from left, HR manager Leila James, HR officer Marta Kopiec, Zenabo Sawadogo Ouedraogo, senior people development partner Claire Withers, and Telford College functional skills assessor Nicky Jones

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