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Fox’s Biscuits see English as key ingredient to success

11 members of staff at Fox’s Biscuits production facility in Batley have undergone an ESOL course (English for Speakers of Other Languages) through Learning Unlimited leading to boosted staff morale and potential progression through the business. More courses are now planned to run as the business makes a big commitment in improving the reading and writing skills of its staff.

Kamran Ali, Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union Branch Secretary at Fox’s Batley explains, “BFAWU have been keen to support this training from the very start. It all came about from one member of staff who’s English skills were identified as not being very good, especially his reading and writing skills, and that key aspects of his role would significantly benefit from improving them. Take for example all of the signs and directions around the site, did he really understand them? We then got in touch with Learning Unlimited who came in and identified that there are pockets of staff here with reading and writing is in fact below entry level.

“The company bought in to the idea of evening ESOL classes for these members of staff, working with Learning Unlimited. From this initial 11 members of staff we’ve already earmarked several colleagues for the entry level 3 and level 1 English courses too so this is just the start in a major shift in the way English skills are developed here. In fact, several colleagues mentioned improving their skills in maths and ICT too so it seems this has sparked a real enthusiasm in returning to learning to help them not only in work but in their home life too. The tutors from Learning Unlimited have been fantastic. It’s nothing like the style of learning my colleagues were used to from childhood, it’s more open, inclusive and friendly. The company should now see the benefits of these colleagues keen to progress up the ladder. In the past they have had this ceiling of progression because of the limited reading and writing skills but this is no longer the case.”

Stephen Mulligan, General Manager for Fox’s Biscuits, Batley adds, “It’s gone really well, especially considering this is the very first one we’ve had staff take part in. We believe in supporting these members of staff wherever we can so we’ve split the time commitments for the course 50/50 in terms of time off their usual working day as well as their own time commitment. Investing in your employees future is priceless. The fact they see we are supporting them in this way leaves a positive feeling all round, at the end of the day all we want is for our employees to feel happy about coming to work. We now have another cohort of colleagues signed up to this ESOL course and several others lined up to the higher level courses so they can now start progressing as far as they want to in the business.”