Most people understand the importance of getting an education to improve employment opportunities. In fact, the number of people in Canada who have post-secondary education has tripled in the last 25 years. But once people are in the workforce, are they getting the training they need to keep improving their skills and to adjust to changes in their workplace or a change in jobs? According to experts, they are not. In fact, workplace training has been on the decline and has decreased by 40% over the last 20 years.
On February 10, 2016, CTV Morning Live aired an interesting interview with Gillan Mason, president of ABC Literacy Life Canada, David Suess from Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters and Kaylie Tiessen from Unifor to discuss the importance of ‘skilling up’ the Canadian workforce. Mason emphasized that there is a massive literacy and essential skills challenge in Canada. In fact, more than 40% of Canadians do not have the sufficient essential skill levels to manage the demands of 21st century jobs, yet Canadian employers are investing less in workplace training. But should employers take full responsibility for this? All of the members on the panel thought this should be a shared role. Yes, employers need to understand the importance of workplace training and invest in it, but adult literacy and essential skills practitioners can help by offering appropriate workplace training. As well, individuals need to buy into the culture of lifelong learning – to expect to keep learning even after formal education has ended.
In order to act on this issue, ABC Literacy Life Canada collaborated with corporations, unions and trainers to create an initiative called UPskill that they launched in the fall of 2015. On their very user-friendly website, they outline their goals:
- To increase Canadian’s access to literacy and essential skills training and provide business with tools and resources to support this training
- To provide an avenue for literacy practitioners to gain new knowledge and improve practices
- To create a network to inform and develop literacy and essential skills policies.
- To help employers diagnose issues and offer solutions. (The website has a 1-page checklist so that employers can analyze their current workplace essential skills needs.)
The website also has information on why employers would benefit from investing in workplace training. For example, strong essential skills have a positive impact on business such as increased cost savings, customer satisfaction, productivity gains and increased revenue. It also has an impact on employees’ job performance, job-retention, health and well-being.
ABC Life Literacy Canada saw the need for action and created an initiative to promote a culture of workplace learning and to ensure that Canadians gain the essential skills they need for workplace success. In last month’s blog post, we see that Sheila Dobie offered the Decoda Literacy Solutions Building Resilient Workers: Health and Safety at Work program in her community. What is happening in your community to ensure that locals have the skills they need for workplace success?
To view the CTV Morning Live interview on workplace essential skills training, click here.
Community Literacy Coordinator
Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy - Golden