Ontario’s Adult Education Consultation and an On-going Concern about a Seemingly Uncoordinated System

Christine Pinsent-Johnson has written a post on the various initiatives underway in Ontario. Lots happening, much of it good, but she wonders if it’s a bit too much or uncoordinated.

Policy Problems

So much is happening in Ontario’s adult education system in a very short period of time that it becomes challenging to keep track of announcements and various initiatives. In just over a year, those working in LBS, ESL/FSL and Adult Credit have been caught up with

  1. The Highly Skilled Workforce Initiative,
  2. The LBS evaluation, a symposium and now a year-long engagement process (announcements here),
  3. An infusion of funding,
  4. Further development of the adult education strategy
  5. An extensive audit of ESL/FSL,
  6. And now a province-wide adult education consultation process, accompanying a reorganization of the adult education system.

For those working in the field, particularly for those involved with all three learning ministries (i.e. the Ministries of Citizenship and Immigration, Education and Advanced Education and Skills Development) any one of these efforts would have been enough to draw attention away from day-to-day program operations. Now there are six initiatives…

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Posted in Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Policy, Literacy and Essential Skills, Provincial/Territorial Governments and Literacy | Leave a comment

Who Should be Helped First? Employed Workers or the Unemployed?

Donna Wood’s latest blog post – worth a read. Her conclusion:

“Our workforce development infrastructure is in dire need of revitalization and reform, with many issues needing to be addressed. Indeed, we probably do need to pay attention to the impact of automation on current jobs.

But let’s not get the cart before the horse. Before we start to extend services to the employed to the level recommended by the Advisory Council, we need first to expand, strengthen and consolidate the services on offer by provincial governments to the unemployed. That has to be the first priority. If only we knew in more detail what our governments had in mind.”

The Welfare State Matters....

With government resources always limited, would Canadians prefer that we spend more on training employed workers over the unemployed? I think this is unlikely. Yet that is exactly what the federal government’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth has suggested in their December 2017 Learning Nation: Equipping Canada’s Workforce with Skills for the Future.

Acknowledging that automation and changes in existing occupations could threaten the jobs of more than 10 per cent of Canadian workers ─ about 2 million people ─ the Council has recommended a $15 billion dollar investment in a federally-governed Canada Lifelong Learning Fund and the transformation of the network of provincially[1] operated employment centres that primarily serve the unemployed to also serve the employed.

The employment centres use names such as Work BC, Alberta Works, Employment Ontario, and Emploi-Quebec. Although in some places provincial offices provide the ‘front door’, most…

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Posted in Canada Job Grant, Labour Market Agreements, Skills | 1 Comment

Does anyone have info about the Workforce Development Agreements?

I’m reaching out to all of you who follow my blog to see if anyone has information on the Workforce Development Agreements.

I wrote in my blog post Budget 2017 – Skills and Training a Priority:

The government is proposing to create Workforce Development Agreements. These agreements, to be negotiated with the provinces and territories, will consolidate into one agreement the Canada Job Fund Agreements (CJFA), the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities (LMAPD) and the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers (TIOW). The idea is to give the provinces and territories greater flexibility and make everything simpler. $900 million will fund these new agreements over the next 6 years starting in 2017-18.

I’ve not heard anything about the status of the negotiations or whether the WDAs were actually implemented in the current fiscal year.

If you have any info that you can share, I’d love to hear from you.

Posted in Canada Job Fund, Canada Job Grant, Federal Budget, Federal Government and Literacy, Labour Market Agreements | 6 Comments

Job Posting – National Events Manager

The Peter Gzowski Foundation for Literacy (PGFL) is looking for a National Events Manager. This part-time contract position will liaise with and provide remote event management support of Peter Gzowski Invitational (PGI) events undertaken by local PGI partners.  The closing date is February 1, 2018.

Here’s the full job description: Job Posting – National Events Manager

Full disclosure: I’ve recently joined the board of PGFL. Please circulate this to anyone you know who might be interested. Thanks.


Posted in PGFL, PGIs | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Summary of Ontario LBS concerns

Yesterday I posted about Ontario’s consultations on its Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) program and on strengthening its adult education system.

Christine Pinsent-Johnson has taken the October 2017 Symposium report and re-organized it into a summary that follows the 8 key ways identified to improve LBS. You can read her post here: A Record of LBS Concerns from the October 5th Symposium

I’m glad Christine put this summary together. It organizes the complex and extensive discussions into a more manageable document.

Posted in Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Policy, Literacy and Essential Skills, Provincial/Territorial Governments and Literacy, Skills | Tagged | Leave a comment

Ontario consults on improvements to the adult literacy system

Following the 2017 evaluation of the Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) Program, the government of Ontario has engaged the literacy field in seeking improvements to the program.

The province held a consultation on October 5, 2017 with 250 people from the LBS programs in the province. That consultation identified 8 ways to improve the program:

  1. Providing continuous communication and regular engagement opportunities with the LBS network in order to hear from the people who know the program best. The Ministry also needs to create opportunities for everyone involved in the LBS program to come together to strengthen the support system within the LBS network.
  2. Improving perception of LBS and literacy by developing a marketing strategy that increases public awareness and understanding of the range of services LBS offers and the benefits individuals can gain from participating in the program.
  3. Enhancing the Ontario Adult Literacy Curriculum Framework (OALCF), particularly the learner Milestones and Culminating Tasks, to create a curriculum that is more responsive to the goals, progress, and lives of learners.
  4. Addressing participation barriers by updating the program’s Eligibility and Suitability Criteria to make the program accessible for anyone who needs the service.
  5. Allocating more funds for the resource and support needs of learners, including social support, mental health and learning disability resource, and digital literacy needs.
  6. Providing more resources, support and professional development training for service providers that are responsive to the regional needs of every sector and stream in the LBS network.
  7. Enhancing collaboration between other provincial service programs and LBS to improve the referral and connection to people who could benefit in participating in the program.
  8. Providing sufficient, equitable, and stable funding that is allocated with transparency to the LBS network to increase and strengthen the services provided to learners and support needs of service providers.

The full report can be accessed here: Ontario LBS Symposium – October 2017

More recently, a public consultation has been launched on improving adult education.” Until the end of January, learners (current and past), teachers, program administrators, support organizations and employers are invited to review the consultation document and provide feedback through an online survey. Strengthening Ontario’s Adult Education System

The consultation paper articulates,

“The government’s vision is of a seamless, learner-centred adult education system that provides opportunities for all adults living in Ontario to develop the knowledge and skills they need to participate fully in Ontario’s highly skilled workforce and constantly evolving society. This vision is built on the principles of accessibility and inclusion.”

The paper identifies the pillars of a strong adult education system as learner-centred opportunities, clear, coordinated pathways, meaningful outcomes, and collaboration among government departments.

The government has cast a wide net of programs that fall within the scope of adult education including

  • the Adult Non-Credit Language Training Program for immigrants, offering both English- and French-language training, delivered by English and French school boards (Citizenship and Immigration MCI)
  • literacy, numeracy, and digital skills training through the Literacy and Basic Skills program, delivered by community agencies, school boards, and Ontario colleges (Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development MAESD)
  • academic upgrading programs and the Academic and Career Entrance (ACE) certificate, delivered by Ontario colleges to support entry into apprenticeship and college (MAESD)
  • secondary school courses for adults that provide credits towards the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) and/or prerequisite credits needed for postsecondary education, delivered by both English and French school boards (Ministry of Education)
  • the Ontario Bridge Training Program for highly skilled, internationally trained immigrants, delivered by a variety of not-for-profit organizations in Ontario, including colleges and universities, occupational regulatory bodies, employer associations, and community agencies (MCI)

It is good to see Ontario reaching out and consulting the field. A more open and transparent process, working in collaboration with the literacy field, can only help to bring about positive changes to the program, enhance collaboration and begin to break down silos.

Posted in Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Policy, Literacy and Essential Skills, Provincial/Territorial Governments and Literacy | Tagged | Leave a comment

Manitoba’s Learning for Life Literacy and Numeracy Summit

Over the next three days, the province of Manitoba is holding a summit as part of an effort to develop a long-term literacy and numeracy strategy for the province. Learning for Life: Charting the Future through Literacy and Numeracy participants will reflect on the current state of literacy and numeracy, identify gaps and develop goals and action plans.

The scope of the summit is more than adult learners and includes children, youth,  and families – “from cradle to careers”.

Intended outcomes for the summit are:

  • Manitoba needs to close the achievement gaps for children during the critical early years. This also means supporting those who experience barriers to learning at all ages and abilities.
  • In order to compete in the global, knowledge-based economy, Manitoba also needs to raise the bar for literacy and numeracy.
  • The Summit will guide participants through a co-creation process, providing Manitobans with the opportunity to help develop a provincial literacy and numeracy strategy.

Manitoba has wanted for some time now to develop a literacy and numeracy strategy. I’ll be interested in hearing from those who are at the summit about the discussions and the outcomes.

For more information, check out: Learning for Life

Posted in Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Policy, Literacy and Essential Skills, Provincial/Territorial Governments and Literacy, Skills, Workplace Literacy | Tagged | Leave a comment