No barriers to learning

April 13, 2021

Erich Krogmann is a night packing manager at Countdown, spending his evenings stacking shelves, storing items, and making sure his team works well together. Each night is different, and there’s a high degree of responsibility, something Erich has been relishing since stepping into the manager’s role after five years as a supervisor.

Late in 2020, Erich decided to undertake further learning, enrolling in the Competenz Food and Beverage Level 2 qualification, which he says has given him more skills and was an important part of the process moving forward as a manager.

“I wanted to make sure I was doing things correctly and that everything was being done safely in the supermarket, especially in those places where extra care is needed like the bakery and fish departments,” he says.

Erich is due to graduate from the nine-month programme on 23 June 2021. After attending the initial two-day course, he entered into practical training, which includes on-the-job learning and workplace assessments. When he started the course, he had to learn how to balance study with a night job and a young family, but his main challenge came in the form of his hearing disability.

“At work, I have a back-up colleague who is a hearing person, and we work as a team. When it came to studying, as a deaf person, I use sign language, so my English is not always that great! But I had the help of an interpreter, which made it a lot easier and, of course, I can read written language. There was quite a lot of written material to read, so I had to go through it all very carefully to make sure I understood it clearly.”

Erich is being helped through the programme by David Sewell from NSF Food Safety Services. David delivers Competenz qualification training in supermarkets around the country.

“The course is tailored around Countdown’s food control plan and some of the content is specific to their policies. It complements the organisations internal training systems. The learning underpins essential skills necessary in the food industry and reinforces the logic behind why quality management, food safety and health and safety are so important – if people know that, they’re more inclined to action it. Knowing how to follow safety processes to ensure customers as well as the team are kept safe gives employees a sense of responsibility and ownership.”

David says Erich’s energy and enthusiasm on the course has been “fantastic”.

“It is important we are able to cater to Erich’s needs. He asks really intelligent, thoughtful questions and has been an absolute pleasure to have on the course. I think he is getting more of an insight into how to manage his team and what he could expect from them, and some of the finer details around health and safety and food safety.”

Erich says what he is learning in the Level 2 course has changed his attitude towards his work.

“There is a lot about performing as a team and making sure people understand what they are doing around the health and safety process. The course has given me more confidence, my expectations are higher, and I’m able to understand more about how the business actually runs. It’s helped me become more aware that we are part of a big team and how everything we do affects the products we sell and the safety of products, staff, and the public. Some things I already knew, but it is also about how to communicate them to the team.”

The food and beverage qualification is beneficial to learners working within the bakery, butchery, delicatessen, and fresh foods departments. For managers such as Erich, staying on top of this learning facilitates a stronger understanding of key health and safety and food hygiene principles across the team.

David says the course was slightly tweaked to accommodate Erich’s needs, and with the aid of interpreters and signers. “I can’t believe there are people out there in a similar situation to Erich who believe they can’t do training courses. It’s really important that people with different learning needs are able to learn the same things as everyone else.”

Erich says he thinks he’s inspired other people with a disability to take on training.
“Being deaf is no barrier to learning and seeing someone like me achieving qualifications and working in a job that has a lot of responsibility has hopefully encouraged them to give it a go.”