A WARMINSTER company is working with Wiltshire College & University Centre to help its employees to learn English.

Giles Foods, a leading manufacturer of chilled and frozen foods, has started giving staff paid time off during their working day to study English for Speakers of Other Languages.

The ESOL course, which they completed last week, began in October with 12 staff, whose first languages are Polish and Romanian, attending the college’s Warminster centre once a week to improve their English.

Malcolm Quinn, general manager at Giles Foods, which was established in 1977, said: “We employ people from seven different countries and found that communication between the team was our biggest management issue.

“With the help of Wiltshire College & University Centre, we have been able to give everyone the opportunity to learn English.

“To encourage attendance, we allowed the teams to attend college during work time as we felt the long-term benefit far outweighed the short-term cost.

“College staff individually assessed our team and structured the training to support beginners and intermediate level English speakers.

“The benefit to the company is already being felt; the team are more confident when communicating with customers, the management team, and their peers.

“It has also opened the opportunity for them to continue their English language study and attend other training courses offered by the college.”

Wiltshire College & University Centre has been offering ESOL courses for a number of years but has expanded this provision in recent years to include ESOL in the workplace, which has proven popular with local employers.

Tom Evans, deputy head of department for ESOL, said: “We are really happy to be working with such a forward-thinking company as Giles Foods.

“There are a whole range of benefits to the company, the individual employees and the community from these students improving their level of English.

“These include learners being able to communicate better with doctors, at their children’s schools and with native English speakers in the communities they live in, which helps with community cohesion and fosters good community relations.”

“As a department we are keen to work with any local employers which see the value of helping their staff to become fluent in English by providing these kind of workplace learning opportunities.”

The 12-week ‘ESOL In The Workplace’ course focused on improving basic communication, reading and writing skills.

At the end of the course, each learner can take an exam and achieve a qualification from the Trinity College London ESOL exam board.

Theresa Qusza Bednarz has been working at Giles Foods for three years.She said: “This is a good course for me as I am learning English.

“It’s very good to be able to speak the language as I work and live in the UK.”

Viktor Muresano moved to the UK from Romania three years ago. He said: “This course has really helped me because even though I speak some English there are some words that I am missing from my vocabulary.”