A case study in the retail industry
When Joseph Romeo, one of three brothers directing the family-run Romeo Retail Group (RRG), analysed his business' growth potential in 2002 he knew that to grow his business he needed a solid training program for his largely casual staff, to bring them up to speed with changing workplace demands and such things as OHS legislation and compliance. Without dedicated, well-trained staff, RRG would be unlikely to expand beyond its current three IGA Foodland franchises.
‘We needed staff to grow with us. We were behind when it came to managing the demands placed on the business by changes in things like OHS legislation,' says Joseph.
Joseph knew that many of RRG's casual workers had limited education or came from non-English speaking backgrounds and that they would struggle with the demands of training. So he engaged the services of the Workplace Education department of TAFE SA to help him plan a program that would work, both for the business and its employees.
The training program they developed was tailored to retail operations in the service industry with an integrated language, literacy and numeracy component. Training costs were subsidised by the government's Workplace English Language and Literacy (WELL) programme and resulted in workers with no previous qualifications successfully completing four units of competency at Certificates II and III levels.
Joseph sees the time spent in planning as essential, commenting ‘For many workers this was the first time they would be enrolling in accredited training and we wanted them to know that they were getting quality training.'
Five years down the track and with a WELL training program completed by 10 permanent employees, many of whom had been casual at course commencement, RRG now has seven IGA Foodland franchises - which Joseph puts down to the success of the WELL training program.
‘It wouldn't have happened without the training. It's not just that we got the ball rolling as far as training is concerned or that we now comply with all safety laws and are probably even leaders in training and compliance. The employees who took part in the training have gone from seeing working for us as a casual, short-term option to being committed to RRG because we provide a career pathway,' Joseph enthused.
So what are the benefits of WELL training? ‘Other than four new businesses?' laughed Joseph. ‘Well, we now meet regularly to discuss things like OHS issues and we have more systems in place. But generally, the WELL training was the first step towards helping the company grow to what it is now.'
Accredited training can be a key driver to commercial growth and give workers increased skills and confidence as well as career pathways.