On the rise

Federation University Australia's (FedUni) Food Processing programs team are clearly passionate about the importance of bringing successful personal relationships to industry training collaborations. As practitioners, FedUni understands the need to learn about each individual company's environment and culture before expecting them to accept FedUni as their registered training organisation. Listening to an organisation's needs, customising the content of materials, and being flexible and patient in delivery.

It is this commitment that formed part of the attraction to FedUni training for Australia's largest flour producer. Although operating as Allied Mills since 2002, the company's history stretches over more than 100 years, with fourteen locations across the country providing flours and premixes for domestic and international markets. It is a big operation.

HR Manager, David Ainger, explains why Allied Mills chose to provide competency based training for its employees. 'We wanted to increase the capabilities of our employees, with an emphasis on multi-skilling, to allow staff rotation through various roles. We wanted comprehensive, structure training that was accredited and provided staff with a well-earned qualification'. Mill employees are currently undertaking the Certificate III in Food Processing.

FedUni and Allied Mills worked together to develop a range of responsive and flexible learning pathways. 'We spent a fair bit of time in the planning stages' says David, 'FedUni brought valuable knowledge to the table'. The whole program was customised to sensitively mesh with employee's regular work patterns and without disruption to mill operations.

There was some reluctance in returning to study for a handful of staff, but they were supported and encourage by both FedUni facilitators and Allied Mills management, becoming more and more enthusiastic as the benefits became apparent. It is important to have the flexibility to adapt training approaches to everyday workload. The successful program delivered at the Ballarat mill, is being rolled out to other Allied Mills sites, with Kensington next in line.

There have been unexpected benefits also. 'The training has opened ideas for updating current mill processes', says David 'and has acted as a catalyst for developing procedures for the Ballarat mill's new packing line'.

Just as the magical alchemy of flour, water and yeast generates on of the world's most staple foods, creative exchange between organisations and their training providers can produce practical, fulfilling outcomes.