Addressing digital capability in the workplace

Addressing digital capability in the workplace

JNL's digital literacy programme 'Sharpen Your Saw' laid down a wero to its participants: Take on a digital task at home.

Addressing digital capability in the workplace

One of the most common responses we hear to the question ‘who checks emails at home?’ is ‘the Mrs’ so when we started a digital literacy programme with JNL called ‘Sharpen Your Saw’ we laid down a wero (challenge). Each participant was asked to take on at least one computer related task at home, as well as actively use the employee focused software at work.

Initially this challenge was not met with much enthusiasm and it took about a week before the frustration and threats of ‘throwing out the computer’ subsided. Then came the confidence boost that comes with knowledge and accomplishment and the acknowledgement that technology can make life a bit easier.  Within the week, this class of (mainly) men were problem-solving technical issues and seeing how they could take this knowledge home. 

When one learner described his accidental detour between tabs on a browser as  going from New Zealand to Africa, it was such a great description of the frustration many people feel trying to navigate their way in the digital unknown. The tutor took him back steps to explain how he had accidentally lost his way. 

Too many of us take technology for granted and can’t imagine that there are people who simply don’t need or want it in their lives. The realisation that a phone; access to the internet; even GPS can actually be very handy is an excellent first step into the great unknown or misunderstood of digital technology for many. During this class, technology was given real-world applications. GPS tracking on pig hunting dog collars was a “genius” invention for some of the keen hunter-gatherers in the classes. So too is Trade Me and the local Facebook Grapevine for buying “useful stuff”.

And while the class were still happy to leave the home finances to their wives, they did agree it would be helpful to know how to log in to banking accounts to “keep an eye on the online shopping!” 

Everyone had a go at using Google to look up something that was interesting to them. The room went silent, except for the whirring of brains being filled with newfound “useful” knowledge. How to improve darts throw; how to fix a petrol lawnmower; boats; fishing with soft bait vs live bait; and even keto diets.

As the group came back week after week, the tutor was chuffed to see them sit down, start logging on without any encouragement and get started without assistance. 

As luck would have it, the group were trained up in using zoom “just in case we go into lockdowns in the future” the week before Level 4 lockdown in August, 2021. They talked about the changing world of work and why everyone is having to re-think the way we work and how we adjust to different situations.

For the team at JNL, the work cannot be taken home. It is not possible to strip a tree trunk of its bark, or process timber into fibre board at home. But, beginning to korero about learning online from home and at work is an opportunity now open to these 25 people in Kaitaia.  The impact of the programme has really become evident during the recent level 4 lockdown, with JNL able to communicate more easily with employees, employees able to respond to requests for information and undertake online level 3 induction programmes in preparation for the return to work utilising the new HR system implemented in April this year – something that would have been impossible for this group previously.

The purpose of Sharpen your Saw is to ensure employees can participate in online work-related learning. It is also to acknowledge the importance of being able to do health and safety reports on the computer and to move away from always using pen and paper. There are three key reasons for accessing apps or websites at work, and these are the focus as well as several video tutorials created in house.

Over halfway through, until the lockdown, the learners have been actively working through Pathways Awarua Health and Safety modules and enjoying navigating their way around the screen and pages. They are slowly filling their ketes of knowledge with practical information which is opening new possibilities and opportunities for them.