Two Nova Scotia companies have received national recognition fortheir leadership in upgrading the education and literacy skills oftheir employees. Elmsdale Lumber (ELCO) and Minas Basin Pulp andPower Company Ltd. have won Conference Board of Canada awards ofexcellence for workplace literacy. “These awards are a tremendous compliment to the managers andemployees of these two companies,” said Education Minister JamieMuir. “Elmsdale Lumber and Minas Basin Pulp and Power havedemonstrated real commitment to helping employees get the skillsand training they need to be more successful in the workplace.It’s great to see the Conference Board recognize theirachievements as well.” ELCO launched its workplace education program four years ago inresponse to challenges facing the lumber industry. “Internationaltariff and trades challenges made increased productivityessential,” said Gennie Himmleman, office manager with ElmsdaleLumber. “New management techniques, computerization and programs required better trained employees.” Elmsdale Lumber was recognized by the province on InternationalLiteracy Day in September 2003 for their workplace educationprogram. Mel Lively, a 57-year-old lumber mill worker who upgradedhis reading and writing skills through the workplace program, hadjust launched his first book. He wrote Mel’s Story, a chronicle ofhis life in the woods and the lumber mill, with his tutor, KimHutchison. Minas Basin has been recognized for its innovation in training andscheduling workplace education in a production environment thatruns 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The company worked withpartners to form a project team with the Department of Education,Communications, Energy and Paper Workers (CEP) Local 583 andemployees. A full-time personnel scheduler now helps employees,including those who signed up to be personal tutors, to fitclasses into their work schedules. Mike Smith, a paper mill production worker, is upgrading hisreading and writing skills. Mike dropped out of school in Grade 7,after teachers told him he had gone as far as he could. Now afterworking 26 years at Minas Basin, Mike says he is succeedingbecause of his workplace education instructor Ginny Shultz andtutor Jonathon Lowthers. “Sometimes it’s hard balancing work and studying, but beingtutored by my co-worker Jonathon makes learning easier,” saidMike. “This is a great place to work, and the things I am learningwill help me move up in the company.” The Workplace Education Initiative creates partnerships betweenthe Department of Education, labour groups and companies likeElmsdale Lumber, and Minas Basin Pulp and Power to help workersupgrade reading, writing and math skills. More than 1,200 workers at 50 workplaces have taken advantage ofthe program in the last year. The Workplace Education Initiativeis part of Skills Nova Scotia, which involves training and skillsupgrading, from basic literacy to the use of the mostsophisticated technologies. Awards will be given to recipients on Nov. 30 in Toronto at aConference Board Workplace Education and Learning conferencecalled Investing in People. Workplace Education Program information is available through theDepartment of Education by calling 902-424-0492.