BC Workforce Literacy & Essential Skills Plan

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<ul><li><p>A British Columbia Workforce Literacy and Essential Skills Plan</p></li><li><p>AcknowLEdgEmEnt</p><p>In March of 2013, Decoda Literacy Solutions, in partnership with the Canadian Literacy and Learning Network, brought together senior public, private and non-profit leaders to learn about the impact of low adult literacy rates and contribute to solutions for addressing the current and looming labour and skill shortages in British Columbia.</p><p>This initial forum put us on the path to developing this Workforce Literacy &amp; Essential Skills Plan, which is designed to provide current and future generations of adults with literacy and essential skills to thrive in the workforce. </p><p>Following many meetings with industry, community, employment, Aboriginal and immigrant representatives, an advisory committee was formed to assist in laying out a plan, which is reflected in this document. </p><p>It is wonderful to have such a richly diverse group of people ready and willing to address the challenge of workforce literacy and essential skills. Everyone involved contributed to a thoughtful process to find solutions for this complex social and economic issue. </p><p>As the CEO of Decoda Literacy Solutions, I felt honoured to be a part of this project and I would like to thank all those who are responsible for the development of the plan and any future success that may occur as a result.</p><p>Brenda Le Clair CEO, Decoda Literacy Solutions</p><p>AdviSory committEE</p><p>Decoda Literacy Solutions gratefully acknowledges the British Columbia Workforce Literacy and Essential Skills Advisory Committee for their significant contribution to this Plan.</p><p>Lou Black - Hospital Employees UnionLeanne Caillier-Smith - Adult Literacy Fundamental Articulation CommitteeKim Crevatin - BC Construction AssociationLinda Dempster - Vancouver Coastal Health AuthorityJocelyn Fraser - Norman Keevil School of Mining, University of British Columbia, PhD studentAbigail Fulton - BC Construction AssociationVictor Glickman - University of British ColumbiaPete Grinberg - School District #73 Susanna Gurr - BC Centre for Employment Excellence</p><p>Danielle Hoogland - Comox Valley Lifelong Learning AssociationOpreet Kang - Immigrant Employment Council of BCBernie Magnan - BMA Ltd., Economics ConsultingDawn Martin - BC Chamber of CommerceLynne Masse-Danes - LearnNowBCAnne Mauch - Council of Forest IndustriesCarrie McCulley - Ministry of Justice, CorrectionsKaren McDiarmid - Canadian Manufacturers &amp; Exporters, British ColumbiaDonna Pakulak - City of North VancouverMary Shier - Adult Literacy Fundamental Articulation CommitteeDiane Walsh - Federation of Post-Secondary InstructorsAli Wassing - Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy</p></li><li><p>A British Columbia Workforce Literacy and Essential Skills Plan </p><p>All rights reserved. May be reproduced for non-commercial educational use only. </p><p>Published by Decoda Literacy Solutions, 560-510 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC, V6C 3A8 Ph. 640-681-4199 / www.decoda.ca / info@decoda.ca </p><p>A British ColumBiA WorkforCe literACy And essentiAl skills PlAn | 2014</p></li><li><p>WWW.deCodA.CA/Wles 1</p><p>Table of ContentsExecutive Summary 2</p><p>Context and Rationale for a Workforce Literacy and Essential Skills Plan 3</p><p>Filling Jobs in British Columbia 4</p><p>The Challenge 5</p><p>The Return on Investment 5</p><p>Development of a BC Workforce Literacy and Essential Skills Plan 6</p><p>Business Sounding Board 6</p><p>Helping Adults Get Their Diplomas 6</p><p>Engagement and Consultation Process 6</p><p>Guiding Principles 7</p><p>Families Find Success in the Comox Valley 7</p><p>BC Workforce Literacy and Essential Skills Plan 8</p><p>1.0 Strategy Increase literacy and essential skills (LES) program capacity 9</p><p>2.0 Strategy Increase literacy and essential skills (LES) program quality 11</p><p>3.0 Strategy Reduce the need for adult workforce literacy and essential skills (LES) programming 13</p><p>4.0 Strategy Increase business capacity to support literacy and essential skills (LES) development 14</p><p>5.0 Strategy Enhance engagement and understanding between literacy and essential skills (LES) providers and with employers 16</p><p>6.0 Strategy Clearly describe the workforce literacy and essential skills (LES) system 18</p><p>7.0 Strategy Develop a policy framework for Workforce LES 18</p><p>8.0 Strategy Provide strong coordination and leadership 19</p><p>Immediate Action Checklist 20</p><p>About Decoda 22</p></li><li><p>A British ColumBiA WorkforCe literACy And essentiAl skills PlAn | 20142</p><p>A British Columbia Workforce Literacy and Essential Skills Plan</p><p>ExEcutivE SummAry</p><p>The recent attention on the development of resource-based industries in British Columbia offers an opportunity to develop a more skilled local, regional and provincial workforce. As government and industry are both interested in ensuring local labour force participation and more people trained for trades and technology jobs, attention to the development of literacy and essential skills is imperative, particularly for more vulnerable populations.</p><p>The tremendous benefit to the economic and social well-being of the regional population will not be realized without significant effort. Furthermore, time is of the essence and there are too many potential barriers to wait until the construction of projects are underway before developing local workers (BC Natural Gas Workforce Strategy and Action Plan, July 2013).</p><p>Of particular importance is the fact that for some of the potential local workforce it will be necessary to have at least short term literacy and essential skill training before these individuals can participate in the more skilled, technical training that is required for many of the expected job openings in the near future.</p><p>Research over time and around the world supports the understanding that key competencies for participating in the knowledge economy are reading, writing, math, oral communication, problem solving, digital skill, and working both independently and with others.</p><p>These literacy and essential skills are required for the workforce in any business or industry. In order for British Columbia to build its resource industries and the communities that support those, it is critical that all people in the labour force have the literacy and essential skills required to participate.</p><p>Currently, literacy and essential skills training is offered by various formal and non-formal providers using delivery models that include workshops, one-to-one tutoring, classroom instruction, mentoring and embedding literacy learning in community or business-focused initiatives. </p><p>At the community level, literacy task groups made up of representatives from many different community services coordinate this work within individual communities. However, regionally and provincially there is no overall coordination and collaboration of services.</p><p>A BC Workforce Literacy and Essential Skills Plan supports more collaborative efforts and the use of various innovative models of delivery in more places. It also supports the goals of provincial, regional and industry sector skills and training plans.</p><p>In todays knowledge-driven economy, even entry-level or lower-skilled employment requires reasonable levels of literacy and essential skills. Many industries have invested heavily in technology in order to attain higher levels of productivity. Yet, the promise of productivity increases from technological change assumes the ability of the labour force, as much as industry, to incorporate those changes into everyday work practices (Essential Skills Ontario).</p></li><li><p>WWW.deCodA.CA/Wles 3</p><p>contExt And rAtionALE for A workforcE LitErAcy And ESSEntiAL SkiLLS PLAn</p><p>Over 150,000 British Columbians aged 25-54 have not graduated from high school (BC Stats 2011). In addition, approximately 600,000 working-age British Columbians over one quarter of those currently employed do not have the minimum literacy and essential skills required to successfully participate in a knowledge economy (Skills for Growth: British Columbias Labour Market Strategy to 2020).</p><p>The BC Government has predicted that there will be over 1.1 million new job openings by 2020; and yet there are only about 600,000 young people in the BC education system (Skills for Growth: British Columbias Labour Market Strategy to 2020). Combined with other demographic trends and economic growth, there will soon be more jobs than qualified workers. This is happening already in some sectors and occupations. In addition to recruiting workers from outside BC, we must make better use of existing labour force participants in particular those unemployed and wanting to work.</p><p>Whether it is enabling unemployed people and/or the employed with low levels of education to take advantage of economic opportunities in Fort Nelson, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Tumbler Ridge or Vancouver; or whether it is helping a First Nations population become employed in economic development on its land literacy and essential skills are often the first step required to seize, maintain or enhance employment.</p><p>As a result of the BC Jobs Plan, the BC Government launched the Skills and Training Plan and more recently the BC Skills for Jobs Blueprint. Also, three regional skills training plans have been developed for the Northwest, the Northeast and the Kootenays. The major focus of these plans is on trades and technical training. There is reference, </p><p>however, in the regional plans to significant proportions of people with minimal formal education. Notably, there are higher than provincial averages of people aged 24-54 without high school completion in these regions, particularly in the north. This is a challenge as the majority of the high-demand occupations identified in the plans will require at least high school completion</p><p>Focus group and interview participants raised concerns about a surprisingly large/potentially growing group of people with literacy and/or life skills challenges that prevent them from connecting to or remaining in the labour market often referred to as multi-barriered. Many felt that people with these challenges were largely hidden; either out of the labour market, recently unemployed after a long history of employment and unable to re-train, or about to become unemployed and unemployable. To assist these individuals, training providers need to gain better understanding of the scope and nature of the problem (Kootenay Regional Skills Training Plan, 2013-2020).</p><p>The Northwest Regional Skills Training Plan has a goal about helping lower-skilled workers to upgrade to gain access to jobs that major projects will create. The provincial Skills for Growth Strategy identifies an objective about expanding essential skills programs to accelerate the participation of British Columbians in the knowledge economy. </p><p>Helping to improve workforce literacy and essential skills helps build conditions for economic growth.</p><p>The Honourable Don McRae, then Minister of Education </p><p>Addressing the Skills Gap Forum, March 25, 2013</p></li><li><p>A British ColumBiA WorkforCe literACy And essentiAl skills PlAn | 20144</p><p>The BC Government has promised to promote employment for local people and the BC Natural Gas Workforce Strategy and Action Plan identifies goals about increasing local talent pools and addressing barriers to local labour force participation.</p><p>Since literacy and essential skills are an important foundation for employment and further training, the development of a long-term sustainable British Columbia Workforce Literacy &amp; Essential Skills Plan will contribute to the achievement of the skills and training objectives of the current government. </p><p>Further there are a large number of literacy and essential skills programs and service providers, but there is only a limited amount of provincial or regional coordination and cohesion. Meanwhile in the face of significant financial challenges, governments are finding it increasingly difficult to provide adequate literacy and essential skills funding. Thus we have to ensure such investments are used most efficiently and effectively. </p><p>The BC Construction Association developed the Skilled Trades Employment Program (STEP), which provides support for people to get and keep work in the construction trades, including referral to short term upgrading and training programs. </p><p>The pilot program focused specifically on employing First Nations people: two hundred people were placed in construction jobs! The Association then did a program for new Canadians and landed residents called ISTEP and then came a program specifically for women. </p><p>STEP is addressing skill shortages in the construction industry by finding and developing workers for construction employers. It seeks to support people who are underrepresented in the industry to find work within it and to grow more skilled in it. Eligible participants are often in low-skilled positions and lack certification, high school diplomas or essential skills.</p><p>STEP has evolved from only being able to place non-EI eligible people in work situations to providing service for all British Columbians and it has been very successful. </p><p>Over the last seven years, STEP has placed over 6000 people into jobs not just labour jobs, but opportunities that lead to apprenticeship and skilled trades positions. </p><p>Filling Jobs in British Columbia</p><p>People are the common denominator of progress. So...no improvement is possible with unimproved people, and advance is certain when people are liberated and educated.</p><p>John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society (1958)</p></li><li><p>5WWW.deCodA.CA/Wles</p><p>The world is changing at an unprecedented rate. In order to keep up in todays challenging economy, businesses need skilled workers who can adapt and innovate. Literacy is the essential foundation that allows workers to build their skills and build businesses and industries.</p><p>Current demographic challenges include crisis-level literacy rates for many children, youth, immigrants and seniors, all of which are expected to worsen in the future. For example, 36 per cent of BCs job openings over the next decade will need to be filled by immigrants. While immigrants may come to Canada with considerable skills, studies have shown us that 60 per cent of immigrants with a first language other than English have literacy levels below a high-school graduate.</p><p>The cluster of key literacy competencies also known as essential skills are under increasing pressure, particularly in the workplace where 35 per cent of working age people (15-64) do not have the literacy skills needed to achieve their goals.</p><p>Literacy is a key business strategy. Whether filling out a job application, learning a new process or studying for life-saving certifications, literacy skills are essential for workers. Without sufficient skills potential and existing employees may experience challenges with day-to-day workplace tasks. Highly skilled employees are happier, safer, and more productive members of the workforce and their communities. Ensuring that employees have the literacy and essential skills they need to succeed in the workplace, and in life, is a smart investment for every business.</p><p>The effects of low workplace literacy. Workers...</p></li></ul>


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