Workplace English courses are NOT AVAILABLE to international student visa holders as the principal course.
Australia’s economy continues to be the envy of the world. Australia’s relatively high levels of prosperity encourages many to come to Australia to seek a better life for themselves and their families and to benefit from the security of a stable society, full-time, secure employment thus contributing to the current public debate about what should constitute a ‘big Australia’.
Skills shortages remain a concern for some employment sectors while others struggle to retain employees. Australian business, particularly small businesses, struggle with the impact of rising interest rates and the strength of the Australian dollar.
All of these factors act as a backdrop to what constitutes productivity in the workplace. It goes without saying that creating an environment where employees are productive is essential to maintain and increase profits for your organisation. Volumes are written on how to maximise employee productivity, but it may be summarised into two basic elements; employee motivation and the work environment.
According to the Department of Immigration & Citizenship, difficulty in speaking English and failure to communicate across cultural barriers isolate and impoverish the individual, cause friction and injustice in society, and contribute to economic inefficiency and waste. While most Australians speak English, a large number do not understand or speak it very well if at all. Many more cannot read and write English. About two million Australians over the age of five speak a language other than English at home. Some 370,000 are unable to speak English well or at all and about 9% of this group were born here. DIAC goes further to state that the practical implications are enormous:
In the Australian economy and the workplace, people who are unable to speak English will remain functionally unskilled no matter how impressive the qualifications that they possess. It means lower productivity, poorer morale, less flexible use of labour, industrial malfunctions, increased health and safety hazards, obstacles to retraining and multi-skilling, and less
2010 figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show almost half of working Australians do not meet basic literacy and numeracy standards. The problem is not only related to migration; there is also concern amongst business groups and universities that school leavers have poor literacy skills, while a majority believe that numeracy skills are poor as well.
Communication skills undermine productivity in the workplace. Many businesses have come to accept the lack of English skills and carry on with their status quo without realising the magnitude of both risks taken and opportunities missed as a result of English language difficulties.
Language issues in the work place can manifest themselves in a number of ways. For example,
- management constantly rely on a small number of bilingual employees to pass information to other employees. Using employees as interpreters can be risky. Not only does it put pressure on the bilingual employee, but it assumes a certain level of leadership, objectivity, and fluency in both languages. The results can be very harmful to the workforce as a whole;
- employees’ lack of English may put them in a compromising, and even dangerous situations. In high-risk industries such as construction, a lack of English can lead to a worker misunderstanding crucial safety information or is too embarrassed to speak up if there is something wrong with their equipment;
- Employees may be working below their skill level because they lack English skills.
English Skills gaps
The level of workplace English skills is only one part of this picture; however, it is an extremely important one. Perhaps its most fundamental implications relate to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1986. Workers from non-English speaking backgrounds cannot be assumed to have fully understood safety instructions or inductions. Even those with good speaking skills may not understand jargon or technical terms and may not read well.
Likewise, every industry and profession has its own technical jargon that non-native speakers are unlikely to ‘absorb’ as they become part of the wider Australian English-speaking culture. This has implications for quality and performance.
The inability of some workers to read training materials made it difficult to give them new skills or prepare them for greater responsibilities. This has clear implications for career development and a company’s ability to introduce new equipment or processes.
What Elite English Institute can do for you:
Elite English Institute specialises in the design and delivery of English language programs. We deliver a range of intensive English courses to overseas students including General English, IELTS preparation and English for Academic Purposes.
In addition, we design and deliver tailor-made English courses to meet the needs of your workplace. Here are some examples;
English for a Safe Work Environment:
This program is currently been developed for a client who has identified an English skills gap among its workforce that come from a range of non-English speaking backgrounds. In particular suburbs, such as the client’s Cabramatta facility, there may be higher concentrations of employees from specific ethnic backgrounds. A concentration of one ethnic group in a specific work environment may result in a ‘hidden culture’ linked to the origins of that group. Unwritten cultural norms associated with this culture may inadvertently act against the organisational culture and be counter-productive to the company’s strategic goals. Use of employees’ native language can re-enforce this separation between the hidden culture and the organisational goals and propagate a ‘them and us’ environment between the cultural diverse workforce and management.
The client is committed to addressing the English skills gap of its workforce over the coming years, As a starting point, and as a result of the completion of ‘an English Learning Needs Analysis’, English for Workplace Health & Safety has been identified as an initial priority. An ESL (English as a Second Language) English syllabus is now been designed for delivery to the workforce.
Business English for the Workplace:
In today’s workplace, it is fair to say that most are technologically literate. Young people pick up computer and other IT skills early in life and through their high-school years, and these skills can readily transfer to the workplace. Yet a problem exists in many workplaces; the literacy levels of employees, including native English speakers, can be a cause of concern. Use of IT is not the issue, however the quality of English language delivery.
Let’s take a simple example; an employee needs to send an email to a client. The employee uses informal language as he would when emailing a friend. The client is offended by the casual nature of the communication as the client considered the issue to be a serious concern.
Business English, whether it is an email, business letter or a business report, needs to be effective, succinct while also displaying a level of formality and professionalism.
The client identified that such ‘business communication skills’ were lacking in their workplace. Elite English Institute designed a ‘Business English for the Workplace’ program for this client to address the skills gaps of the company’s employees.
Elite English Institute is happy to meet with you to identify the English learning needs of your organisation.
come to you to discuss your organisation’s English language learning requirements;
- carry out an English skills gap analysis in consultation with you and/ your workforce;
- customise an English syllabus to match your specific English work environment needs;
- develop a schedule around your organisation’s and employees’ commitments;
- provide English training on-site or at our premises;
- supply qualified and experienced teachers to deliver your English course.