Digital skills are not just for the individuals who come to our programs to gain computer, tablet, smart phone and office skills. We all need to be learning. This includes those who work as trainers across Ontario. To be prepared to support learners in reaching their work and academic goals, we need to stay current with our own skills.
Literacy Ontario Central South (LOCS) is a member of an Ontario wide Digital Literacy Committee. We are working with an amazing group of individuals committed to providing digital skills training to the people who train others. This is a train-the-trainer series. By staying current we are all better prepared to help learners in our programs as they develop their digital literacy skills.
As part of this committee, LOCS developed and led a webinar for LBS organizations in Ontario including managers, instructors, practitioners and executive directors. The webinar focused on one aspect of digital skills – online promotion of our services. The webinar offered practical tips for getting found online. In the webinar we talked about what people would search for if their goal was to get their Grade 12, prepare for college or an apprenticeship or gain workplace skills. We talked about making our websites accessible, based on the AODA requirements. We also touched on social media and the value of building a web of connections.
These tips will be helpful to any organization managing a website, so we decided to share the information here so that our partners also have access.
We have posted a document “Getting Found Online – Resources“. This document has helpful tips as well as links that will help you test and evaluate your current website.
We have also posted a document “Website Design and Redesign” that will be helpful in assessing your current website when you are making decisions about what you want to add and remove.
Let’s all do what we can to reach learners and clients with information about the training we offer.
It was wonderful to meet so many people in this webinar who were committed to staying current with their own digital literacy skills. Ontario is fortunate to have so many great organizations available to support adult learning in the province.
For more information please contact Carrie Wakeford at .
Literacy Ontario Central South (LOCS) is one of the 16 regional literacy networks in Ontario. Together we make up the Learning Networks of Ontario. Our networks work together to support adult training and literacy programs in the province and in our individual regions.
We lead local planning within our communities, working closely with our partners, including employment services and other support organizations.
Finding A Program
Literacy Ontario Central South
LOCS represents the counties of City of Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton, Hastings, Northumberland and Peterborough. If you are looking for training programs in these areas, visit our programs page. There you will find a link to all of the training organizations in each county. Contact Carrie Wakeford directly if you would like assistance finding information: .
LOCS works closely with our peers in the Eastern Region. The Eastern Region includes both the Ottawa and Kingston areas. You can find links to the Eastern Region at The Learning Networks of Ontario website.
If you are in another community anywhere in Ontario, you can contact one of the 16 networks for help finding training options in your area. All of the networks in the North, South, East and Western Ontario regions can be found at the same website The Learning Networks of Ontario.
For more information you can call or email is at LOCS. We are available by phone at (705) 313-4385 or you can contact Carrie Wakeford at
Fleming College expands the work and education choices for Haliburton County residents
A young carpenter improving her math to get ahead in her career. A dad finishing what he started decades ago. A mom juggling a family, part-time work and financial struggles. A new Canadian upgrading her skills to meet course requirements for a practical nursing program.
These are just some of the people in Haliburton County who have turned to Skills on Demand: Work & Academic Upgrading—a flexible work and academic upgrading program of Fleming College, designed to help adult learners reach their educational and career goals.
The free program appeals to adults with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.
Learners can choose courses in a variety of subjects including math, computers, communication and sciences.
Learners register for Fleming’s Skills on Demand program for a variety of reasons, explains Marion Willemsen, professor and program coordinator. Some are looking to finish high school or get the courses they need to get into college. Some work towards their Academic and Career Entrance (ACE) certificate—a Grade 12 equivalent that opens the door to college programs and apprenticeships. Others want to learn new skills to advance in their careers or fulfill a commitment they made to themselves. While their reasons vary, nearly all the people in the program face the challenge of adding school to an already-long list of work and family responsibilities.
“Learning becomes easier without challenges or barriers,” says Willemsen, which is why Fleming offers flexible options in an environment that is welcoming and inspiring.
Skills on Demand is delivered in small groups or through one-on-one support. Training can be taken full-time or part-time, in the day or evening – anything to accommodate work and family responsibilities. Program flexibility allows learners to start any time and provides access to multiple learning options: learning from home or work, in the classroom or online – in any combination.
Before learners attend classes, they complete an essential skills assessment, so they know where they need to start – there is no need to complete courses in things you already know. Program staff work with learners to determine their existing skills, learning style and needs.
“Sometimes learners don’t know what their goal is until they’ve done the assessment and looked at the options,” says Willemsen.
“We accept learners at any level and create an individual learning plan with each person. This plan helps them reach their goals. We always encourage each of them to set a goal so they are creating a timeline for themselves that is achievable.”
Opportunity is a two-way street and learners are in control of their own direction, Willemsen explains. And for many learners in the work and academic program, that more than rings true. As a professor, she has witnessed student success. “People have grit, work hard with determination and a real commitment to their goals.”
Like a mom who had to take a different route to complete her training during the COVID lockdown. She was working online but her kids were using the ‘bandwidth’ in the house because she was homeschooling them.
Students aren’t the only ones enriched by the program. Instructors like Willemsen, also feel a deep connection to the people they help through the program.
“There’s nothing better than helping somebody who wants to better their life and career goals by upgrading their skills. A lot of people are unsure when they start, but that’s what we’re here for. The best way to begin is just to get your foot in the door” says Willemsen.
Fleming Skills on Demand also works with other services such as Fleming CREW Employment Centre and the John Howard Society. Together, the partners offer community-based programming that helps people build skills and connect to the local workforce or go further with their education.
One new program we are offering together is a five-day bootcamp called STRIVE. This program focuses on supporting people as they prepare for work. The program was designed after local employers expressed concerns about some missing skills in the Haliburton community.
STRIVE is also a great program for employers who are thinking about offering on-the-job training. “We can help employers with retention which is important when employers are struggling to find employees,” says Willemsen.
“We can also help employers and their staff. We have employers who send their workers to us to gain skills. In one case, there was a young carpenter who was not offered a promotion because she needed stronger math skills so she could do measurements that required her to add, subtract and multiply fractions. Her employer sent her to take the program one day a week and she successfully finished it.”
“We also provide training for people who need to learn to use Zoom or other computer skills. With COVID we have learned that not everyone has the computer skills they need to access programs, services, training, or work. We can help make that happen.
In some cases, people want to take training but they don’t have access to technology or the Internet. We can help with that too! We make sure people have what they need to access the training they want.
We want people to have fair access to computer skills and technology because it is so important – especially now. This past year we have been jumping through all sorts of hoops to try to reach people so they can continue with their program.”
Reflecting on Willemsen’s years of educating people, she highlights the importance of developing a mutual respect with learners and encouraging them on their journey.
“As instructors, we’ll do whatever we can to help our learners succeed, whether it’s one-on-one support, loaning them a laptop and even helping them with their Internet connection,” said Willemsen.
If you are in Haliburton, Ontario and would like to learn more about how Fleming Skills on Demand–Work and Academic Upgrading can help you, you can contact Jennifer Gill at or call at 705-761-2382.
‘7 Grandfather Teachings’ guides student learning at Peterborough Native Learning Program
The Seven Grandfather Teachings has been a guide for Indigenous people, communities and organizations for generations. At the Peterborough Native Learning Program (PNLP), it’s the cornerstone of everyday learning.
Jason Gilbert, PNLP’s executive director says that for over 20 years, PNLP has been reconnecting learners with their Indigenous culture and traditions.
“Whether you’re Indigenous or not, some of the most powerful teachings we can learn in our lives are rooted in Indigenous traditions,” he says. “The thing that binds us all together include the Seven Grandfather Teachings that both honour and guide Anishinaabe life—Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility, and Truth.”
These core values are necessary, he adds, to our wellbeing, how we conduct ourselves in our relationships and exist in harmony and peace with the world.
PNLP also incorporates culturally-appropriate lessons and the Medicine Wheel, which reminds us that we need to balance the spiritual, emotional, mental and physical parts of our lives for true wellbeing.
Gilbert says these teachings fit well into how we support learners in overcoming challenges and barriers.
PNLP is an adult learning agency that helps individuals over the age of 19 reach their goals. The organization is considered a key resource for Indigenous, non-Indigenous and New Canadians wanting to upgrade their skills to benefit them in life, a career, training or education.
Learners attend PNLP for many reasons. Some people want to complete their Grade 12 or their GED (a credential that says that you have grade 12 level knowledge even without a diploma), or they have their sights set on attending college or university.
Learners can take courses at their own pace, including GED test preparation. People also work on developing their employment readiness – skills that will prepare them for work. Apprenticeship preparation and digital skills training and support is also available.
All courses at PNLP are taught by instructors who start by helping each learner set individual goals. Instructors then provide whatever training and support is needed by each person. It is really customized training.
PNLP also supports people in overcoming barriers so that they can reach the goals they set. “We’ve had students who struggle with poverty, live with emotional or physical trauma, mental health challenges or are in drug addiction recovery or suffer from addictions. Showing them that there’s love and respect at PNLP is very important to us. We support people going through personal challenges through the Seven Grandfather Teachings. Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility, and Truth can definitely provide a clear path forward.”
“A key focus for us is to get Indigenous learners into a position where they can find work, prepare for learning or gain confidence in their lives.” says Gilbert. “An education leads to healthier and more productive lives.” “We understand the challenges people face; our goal is to support them each step of the way. As they go through our program, we see their confidence build.” says Gilbert. He’s seen firsthand the successes of learners who have worked so hard to accomplish their education and career goals.
He recalls one student who had a difficult time reaching her goal. The student met with a PNLP instructor who worked closely with her to develop a learning plan. Within a short time, she reached her Level 3—the highest skill level at PNLP. She moved on to Fleming Skills on Demand – Work and Academic Upgrading and then she completed a healthcare program.
“For that learner, getting to that point was a huge success, and it was great that PNLP could help get her there,” says Gilbert.
His other favourite story is of a learner who approached PNLP because she wanted to apply to the Fleming College Firefighter program. Her only roadblock, she didn’t have Grade 12 C Math and needed assistance.
“Our instructor worked one-on-one with this student. She applied herself with such dedication and did her math work every single day. What could have taken her two years to complete, she did successfully in six months and got accepted into the Firefighting course at Fleming College. It was an incredibly proud moment for her—and for us!” says Gilbert.
PNLP also works with community partners, including Curve Lake Business Employment Resource Centre to help Curve Lake members develop skills for employment.
Gilbert enjoys connecting with other agencies and welcomes referrals. “We are proud of the work we do and are happy that PNLP is really becoming known throughout Peterborough and County. The increase recognition and referrals confirm that we are really offering something beneficial in the community.”
“We’re getting ourselves out there and letting people know who we are and what we’re doing,” says Gilbert. “There’s more emphasis on preserving Indigenous culture and more focus on the Seven Grandfather Teachings. We also attend events on reserves and in the community. We present at job fairs and host employment readiness workshops to let people know what we do.”
“We have a great relationship with our community partners and work closely with other organizations, making referrals so that each learner is supported in all aspects of their lives.”
Visit the Kawartha Now for an article highlighting the work the Peterborough Native Learning Program does in the community.
Peterborough Native Learning Program is located in Peterborough, Curve Lake and Lakefield.