In this CBC article and podcast the importance of literacy is highlighted in terms of our recovery from the impact of the pandemic. “Nearly half of Canada’s population has a big roadblock ahead of them when it comes to post-pandemic economic recovery — and it’s not the novel coronavirus but a fundamental set of skills for daily life.”
The article points out that “it’s important to recognize that low literacy doesn’t mean a lack of skills.” (Monica Das) This is such an important point!
This article includes a great story of someone who left a 30 year career in truck driving. “At the age of 48, Piché decided to go back to school to become a social worker after overcoming significant setbacks in his life — including mental illness and addiction.”
The support available through LBS programs is critical. It’s important to note that we all get a bit rusty. “In short, literacy is not like riding a bike. While Canadians tend to leave the high school level with these skills, it takes practice to retain them.”
Workers with lower levels of education have been among the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Labour Market Information Council. Jobs requiring high school or on-the-job training saw the greatest drop in employment. Except for occupations that require university credentials, employment levels in November 2020 were still below their pre-pandemic level. Volatile Employment in 2020 for Jobs With Lower Educational Requirements
What’s more, nearly half of Canada’s population struggle with literacy which has a significant impact on the economy. (CBC) “Generally speaking, we’re below average compared to other OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries in terms of adult literacy, numeracy skills,” said Michael Burt, an economist with the Conference Board of Canada.
For years literacy has been the base for building a successful work life. With the increased need for digital literacy and skilled workers, this need just continues to grow. As the skills required for employment change, literacy is becoming even more important for finding and keeping a job.
If you would like more information about literacy programs in the LOCS region, including City of Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton, Hastings, Northumberland, and Peterborough, visit our programs page or contact Carrie at .
Literacy Programs work with Employment Services to help people reach their employment goals
Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) organizations and Employment Services (ES) often work together to help individuals reach their goal of a new position, a new career or an apprenticeship.
LBS supports people who are working. Many people reach out to LBS services so that they can gain the skills they need to keep their current position, progress in their current company, or create more options for other types of employment.
In 2019-2020, 24% of people in LBS programs were employed.
Literacy Matters at Work
The relationship between LBS and Employment Services is important. Studies show that there’s a clear connection between successful employment and literacy skills. In a report from Community Literacy of Ontario called ‘Why Literacy Matters” many statistics point to the need for literacy to support success at work.
“Canadians with low literacy skills are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than those with higher level literacy skills.”
“In 2016, only 55% of Canadians aged 25- 64 who did not complete high school were employed. Conversely, the employment rate was 82% for those who had obtained a college or university credential.”
“Research has also found that approximately 45% of Canadians in precarious work have not attained an educational credential beyond a high-school diploma.”
Employment – the #1 Goal
In 2019-2020, 93% of the people in LBS programs in the Literacy Ontario Central South (LOCS) region said that their goal was employment, in either the short or long term. An LBS program offers adults opportunities to advance their reading, writing, math, computer and other skills needed to achieve their goals of employment or an apprenticeship. Also those who have a goal of secondary school or post-secondary education are usually hoping to increase their work options. More recently, people affected by the pandemic have experienced job loss or have a desire to change careers.
People often think that literacy programs only help people with reading and writing or gaining academic credentials, however, LBS also supports job seekers who want to develop their workplace skills. This could be things like apprenticeship math, customer service, computer skills, software such as QuickBooks or MS Office. Computer skills are often called digital literacy and can include many things such as learning to use Zoom or completing online forms.
LBS also supports individuals in developing skills that are often called ‘soft skills’; these are the skills that employers say are a top priority. Soft skills include things like communication, problem solving, teamwork and time management.
LBS programs also work with employers to develop specific training and support for the people on their team. This might be computer skills, customer service or soft skills.
LBS programs can help—at no cost.
Partnerships between Literacy and Employment Services
LBS organizations in the LOCS region have a long history of partnering with Employment Services to deliver workplace programs to help learners find and retain work.
A few of the many examples from the Literacy Ontario Central South Region:
John Howard Society (JHS) and Fleming Academic Upgrading (AU) in Haliburton offer the STRIVE program working in partnership with Fleming Crew. JHS and AU have also worked with in partnership with VCCS in City of Kawartha Lakes on several programs including a soft skills program called Essential Skills Plus. LOCS has supported VCCS in their portfolio training and a competency based training for employers. TVLA has worked with Agilec to offer a Point-of-Sale and Customer Service in retail training program. Fleming AU and the Adult Learning Network is partnering with Durham College Employment Services to offer computer skills. LOCS has worked in partnership with EARN in Northumberland and TVLA in Peterborough to create a Online Point-of-Sale program.
Another recent example includes a partnership between the three LBS sectors (Community-based, College, and School Board) with Employment Services to design an introduction to Zoom course to help participants learn how to use the popular web-video conferencing software.
LBS organizations are always willing to work with Employment Services to support individual clients and learners as they work toward achieving their goals.
Through referrals, partnerships and ongoing communication, LBS and Employment Services continue to work together to support job seekers in the LOCS region.
If you would like to learn more about Literacy programs in the LOCS region, including City of Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton, Hastings, Northumberland, and Peterborough, visit our programs page or contact Carrie at .
Working together to find opportunities and solutions
Ongoing discussions in our community help us identify gaps, needs and opportunities. Solutions are often found through group discussions, even when the discussions happen on Zoom.
This year, we have continued to meet to discuss ways to support adults in our region. This includes adult training and skills development, employment supports as well as other community services including financial and mental health supports.
Literacy Ontario Central South (LOCS) leads quarterly meetings called Literacy Service Plans or (LSPs) in the LOCS regions including Haliburton, City of Kawartha Lakes, Peterborough, Northumberland and Hastings. Adult training providers, employment service providers as well as other community partners all come together to share updates, introduce new programs and brainstorm solutions to expand services and supports in our community.
LOCS is responsible for documenting these discussions, and then once a year, we write a report that draws on what we have learned. We also gather statistics from training and employment service providers and Workforce Boards. With this information we summarize the strengths, gaps and needs in each of the five communities in the LOCS region. These reports are called Literacy Service Plans. These reports are then used to work with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development to set goals for the following year.