Barker’s food products are well known in New Zealand, having been enjoyed by Kiwis since 1969. Fifty years later, the Barker’s factory is still located on the family farm in Geraldine, producing more than 11,000 tonnes of jams, chutneys, sauces and other food ingredients each year.

Four years ago, Barker’s partnered with Competenz and started the journey to create training opportunities that reached many touch points across the organisation and its 227 staff.

“We had an existing qualification pathway – the National Certificate in Food Related Product Processing Level 2 – but realised we wanted to offer a qualification that all factory staff could achieve,” says Barker’s training co-ordinator Donna Shaw. “With the help of Competenz, we have developed new training programmes that are specific to the different roles in the factory.”

Competenz account manager Jacqui Lyders worked closely with Donna to map out Barker’s training material to reflect the skills required for each role’s qualification. “Barker’s wanted to enhance its current internal training and provide staff with formalised recognition and opportunities through the use of nationally recognised qualifications from the NZQA framework,” says Jacqui.

“To design a programme that met all their needs we started from scratch by identifying all the different roles in production, and the different skill sets that were required for a production worker to be competent in specific tasks.

“Once we identified the requirements, we selected applicable unit standards from the NZQA framework so each individual could achieve the same qualification but with different skill sets. We also looked at the current internal training and assessments that Barker’s had created and enhanced those to reflect the outcomes of the unit standards.”

An independent moderator was brought in to check the newly created qualification programmes to ensure all NZQA criteria was met.

Donna says Competenz provides her with a high level of support. “Jacqui is only a phone call away for help and advice and makes regular visits to the factory. As well as receiving the
technical knowledge to help us design a sustainable training model, Competenz also provides financial support in the way of subsidies that we can invest back into training and staff development.”

Competenz has trained four Barker’s staff to be onsite assessors, and to date, 294 nationally recognised qualifications have been awarded to staff across Level 2 Food and Beverage, Level 3 and 4 Workplace Health and Safety, Level 5 National Diploma in Competitive Manufacturing, and Level 4 and 5 Adult Education and Training.

“These qualifications are essential for our business as they are recognised throughout the food industry and our customers also recognise their significance. There are a variety of pathways our staff can obtain their qualifications, which helps their personal development and enables them to be promoted into other roles within the company,” says Donna.

“Qualifications are now embedded in our culture – anyone in production can work towards gaining one or more. I see Barker’s and Competenz continuing to work closely into the future as the company looks to develop more qualifications relevant to the business and its people.”