The Noranda Inc. Brunswick Smelter is a fully integrated primary lead smelter and refinery located on an Atlantic year-round port near the village of Belledune in New Brunswick. Norandas customer focus allows it to respond to diverse customer requirements through services as: Smelting and refining of complex lead and precious metal; Covered storage, ship loading, and ship off-loading of bulk materials, etc.
In todays competitive marketplace, due to technology and global developments, literacy skills that earlier enabled employees to perform their jobs effectively are no longer enough and must be enhanced through continuous skill up-grading. In 1994, Noranda Inc., Brunswick Smelter, introduced its Adult Education Program. This program was developed with intentions of making the most effective use of our employees, allowing them to upgrade their skills and knowledge giving them the ability to succeed in their careers.
To help employees and their spouses increase their skills so that they are better able to cope at work, at home, and in their everyday lives. To provide a program that is attractive, relevant, versatile and non-threatening to employees.
At work : Brunswick Smelters Adult Education Program is committed to increasing employees literacy skills so that they are able to read safety signs, memos, training modules, job postings, and other work-related materials. Employees who have previously benefited from the program are now able to use computers to enter their daily logs, sign for overtime, vacation time, star days, bank time, and change personal information, such as the name of a beneficiary, on their electronic files. Educated and literate employees of the company are able to easily understand, adapt to, and accept changes within the plant. The learners have increased self-esteem, as they are able to rely less on others for help with tasks that require a basic level of reading and writing.
At home : Employees are able to help their children with their schoolwork, read bedtime stories, or read and write for their own personal pleasure.
Everyday living : Employees are able to read mail, fill in forms, write cheques, read maps and signs, restaurant menus, newspapers, use a telephone book, shop, etc.
Results and achievements
Since May 1994, Brunswick Smelters workplace initiatives have celebrated many successes in their French and English and now bilingual classrooms. Fifty-seven people have attended English upgrading classes. Thirty-two of these people are employees, twenty-four are spouses, parents, or adult children. Seventeen receive GED diplomas and ten people received Literacy Diplomas. Employees who are actively involved in our Trades Training program & Training and Education Window Program also benefit from the Adult Education Program, as they attend the class for upgrading their knowledge in certain subjects pertaining to their field of study.
In 1999, former instructor, Roland Guitard was presented with the Alpha Award (facilitator category) from the province of New Brunswick. His outstanding dedication and commitment to the program made him the ideal candidate for this award. Roland was a remarkable teacher, and had a great impact on our program; he had the ability to put students at ease, giving them the confidence they needed to succeed. Last summer, Roland Guitard passed away. His spirit and enthusiasm with Brunswick Smelters Adult Education Program are greatly missed, and he will always be remembered by Brunswick Smelter, and by his students as an exceptional teacher and person.
Originality and Innovation
Literacy New Brunswick Inc., in partnership with Brunswick Smelter has eliminated cost factors for employees. All materials, including paper, pens, binders, and books are paid for. The company pays for all testing fees and workers are given a paid day off to write the exam if a testing date falls on a scheduled workday.
The classes are not held in formal environment such as schools, which might represent a threatening or inhibiting environment to the employees. There is no regular classroom set-up. Students work at their our pace, on their own time. Students take breaks whenever they want to, and the union provides coffee, tea and soup for their enjoyment. Each class has a telephone in case of childcare issues or bad weather. Learners who prefer to work from home can call the class for help with their studies.
Brunswick Smelter recognizes student achievement throughout the year in the company newsletter, as well as a yearly luncheon ceremony. The program is promoted on a continuous basis and in a variety of ways, such as bulletins, postings, and safety meetings. Brunswick Smelter has also created a Workplace education promotional video to educate employees about the program.
Keeping the learners at the forefront of any decision ensures success. Brunswick Smelters workplace program is created with the needs of the learner in mind.
This program has also addressed the needs of small business in the area. They have invited small business to take part in the class at no cost. This is a model that workplace education providers across Canada can follow. Addressing the needs of small business seems to be an issue Brunswick Smelter has solved.
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