Chris Lloyd news story image

Mentoring and dyslexia support in action

Mentoring and dyslexia support in action

Last updated 3 November 2017
Last updated 3 November 2017

Chris Lloyd (pictured above) is part of a national project to discover how best to support trainees with dyslexia. The project provides for learners to be screened for dyslexia and then provided with information and assistance to work with their condition, and to succeed. 

Chris is a qualified drain-layer. But it wasn’t an easy road for him to complete his qualifications. Chris has dyslexia. Like all people with dyslexia he struggles with the written word – reading, writing and spelling are real challenges for him. Although very capable when speaking, Chris became so far behind in his course work that he was about to lose his position in the programme.

But Chris’ training advisor knew that he didn’t lack enthusiasm, with good awareness of what he was doing – it was the paper-work that he struggled with. But all indications suggested that he was going to make a good drain-layer.

The success for Chris and many like him in the workforce, was the support of a mentor – coupled with technology – to help manage his dyslexia. His relationship with his mentor, David Lees, is a great example of how mentoring and dyslexia support can make a real difference.

This support was provided through the dyslexia support project and by a Primary ITO mentor. 

One of Chris’s supervisors, Ollie Silverton, reports that “The project has been an absolute success for Chris. Without the assistance provided, in particular the use of a Smart pen and a mentor, Chris would not have gotten through.” 

“There has never been a problem with his work ethic. Being involved in the project gave us information how we could work to get the best out of Chris. The information showed us how to help him complete his training and succeed in his course work,” says Ollie.

Chris met with David several times before his final assessments and helped him to understand the questions. “My mentor was very useful. I could not have done it without him.”

Over the course of his involvement in this project Chris has moved from being at risk of non-completion, to where he is now considering studying for his certified drain laying qualification. 

The value of having a good mentor

David Lees is one of many mentors recruited and trained by Primary ITO to work with industry trainees to complete their training. He provides his time, wisdom and experience for free to help trainees succeed. The Skills Organisation and Primary ITO are both part of a national project that supports trainees with learning differences, so it made sense to share mentor resources.

Although plumbing and drain-laying are topics that David knows very little about, he is still able to assist. “I find that providing encouragement is really important.” He has also helped apprentice jockeys and trainees from the dairy sector. 

Chris was over the moon when he passed his qualification, and earlier when he finished his exam Chris rang David to say “I am pretty sure I smashed it”.

David says he gets a lot of satisfaction from being a mentor – he even changed the dates of a trip to Australia to meet the needs of a trainee. “Having technical knowledge is useful, but the real contribution a mentor provides is purpose, motivation and organisation,” and of course, the desire to see young people achieve.

Demonstrating the benefits of ITOs working collaboratively

This project is an example of how two Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) can work constructively together to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome. Chris is a Skills Organisation trainee and he was screened for his dyslexia by a Primary ITO staff member. His mentor came from the Primary ITO mentoring programme.

Chris is a participant in a research project involving Primary ITO and the Skills Organisation. The project is part funded by Ako Aotearoa, the National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence, and has three other partners: Service IQ (another ITO), Whitireia Polytechnic and Capital Training Ltd (a Wellington based PTE).

The research project has been set up to evaluate a holistic support package created by Primary ITO to assist dyslexic learners to achieve to their potential. The wrap-around package has five components:

  • a free screening to identify the existence of the learning difference
  • provision of quality information to the trainee
  • support for the trainee to accept their condition
  • information for all people who come in contact with that trainee, including tutors, employers and colleagues
  • human and technological support for the trainee.

There has been a lot of international interest is this research project. Primary ITO have received invitations to present progress report findings to conferences in the United Kingdom, Italy and Australia in the last 12 months. 


Front page photo caption: Chris Lloyd