“Talkin’ ‘Bout my Generation: More Educated but Less Skilled Canadians”

The C.D. Howe Institute released a report entitled “Talkin’ ‘Bout my Generation: More Educated but Less Skilled Canadians” by Parisa Mahboubi.

The author looks at differences in literacy skills comparing 2003 (IALSS) and 2012 (PIAAC). Canada and Norway were the only two countries to have a fall in literacy skills.

Two explanations for this decline in Canada scores are presented. The first is a decline due to aging and the increasing number of older people. The second is a generational difference – Canadian-born respondents from 2012 had, on average, lower literacy and numeracy scores than those in 2003. In all cases, declines in skills were greater for those without a university education.

The paper points to the importance of obtaining the highest possible level of literacy skills early on in life since skills decline due to aging, the lack of ongoing learning, or not using the skills at home or at work.

The author writes: “Education, on-the-job-training and skills use at work and in everyday life play important roles in increasing or maintaining skills levels or slowing down the rate of skills decline.”

Myself along with many others have been promoting this message since 1989. We’re still talking about it today. Workplace literacy programs are excellent vehicles to regain and enhance skills while, at the same time, employers need to fashion jobs so that literacy and numeracy skills are used every day.

To access the summary and the full report, go to “Talkn’ ‘Bout My Generation: More Educated but Less Skilled Canadians”

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Posted in Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Policy, Canada Job Grant, Federal Government and Literacy, International Literacy Surveys, Literacy and Essential Skills, PIAAC, Provincial/Territorial Governments and Literacy, Skills, Workplace Literacy | Tagged | Leave a comment

A chronology of adult education and literacy in Francophone minority communities

RESDAC (Le Réseau pour le développement de l’alphabétisme et des compétences) in partnership with CDÉACF (Le Centre de documentation sur l’éducation des adultes et la condition féminine) have put together a chronology of adult education and literacy in Francophone minority communities.

The chronology, presented in French, gives a unique perspective on Francophone literacy in Canada including a focus on adult education, the creation of institutions and legislation.

I commend both RESDAC and CDÉACF for documenting this important piece of our history.

You can find the chronology at: http://cdeacf.ca/acc/chronologie

Posted in Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Policy, Federal Government and Literacy, Francophone literacy, Provincial/Territorial Governments and Literacy | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

SARN re-imagined

The Saskatchewan Applied Research Network or SARN will no longer be funded by the government of Saskatchewan. SARN is now a sub-committee of the Saskatchewan Adult Basic Education Association (SABEA) where the SARN team remains available to advise and train literacy/BE practitioners in action research under SABEA auspices.

Over the past 13 years, SARN has trained practitioners, supported research and disseminated knowledge. The SARN blog has been one of my own sources of information over the years.

With these changes, SARN’s lead, Dr. Allan Quigley, is (finally) retiring. Allan has a long history of research on literacy and adult basic education founded on his own experiences as an adult educator in the classroom. I wish Allan all the best in his retirement and I’m certain he’ll be keeping an eye on things from his BC vantage point.

Allan has written a final blog post summarizing the accomplishments of SARN, including his own thoughts as he moves on. Please take the time to read the post.  SARN – Saskatchewan Applied Research Network. Who knows, perhaps someone, somewhere, will pick up the mantle and create their own Applied Research Network.

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

2016-2017 Projects funded by OLES

For an organization that hasn’t had a call for proposals since 2015, the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES) found ways to spend $8.4 million in 2016-2017.

Unfortunately, you need to wait for the tabling of the annual Public Accounts to find out what OLES has spent and who were the recipients of that spending. If you go to the OLES website you’ll find an “OLES Project Database.” However, the most recent entries cover projects that started in 2010.

Government departments, in the name of transparency, are supposed to publish their grants and contributions spending. Employment and Social Development Canada’s “Transparency” section only contains projects funded in the first 6 months of 2016-2017. Moreover, the listing contains only 1 project funded by OLES.

Thankfully the Public Accounts lists the recipients of the OLES money although no information is published about what the projects are all about. Here are the projects that OLES spent $8.4 million on last fiscal year, and remember, it lapsed $9.5 million:

Public Accounts – 2016-2017

Contributions to not-for-profit, for-profit, and aboriginal organizations, municipal, provincial and territorial governments for adult learning, literacy and essential skills………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 8,457,994

Actions interculturelles de développement et d’éducation, Sherbrooke, Quebec…… 332,233

Alberta Rural Development Network, Sherwood Park, Alberta…………………………… 630,816

Colleges and Institutes Canada, Ottawa, Ontario………………………………………………. 404,122

Community Business Development Corporation Restigouche, Campbellton, New Brunswick……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 500,943

Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation, Montréal, Quebec…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 390,285

Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia………………………………………………………. 152,605

Frontier College, Toronto, Ontario…………………………………………………………………… 771,529

Government of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick……………………….. 2,000,000

Nunavut Literacy Council, Cambridge Bay, Nunavut………………………………………. 1,224,644

Saint John Learning Exchange, Saint John, New Brunswick………………………………. 287,518

Skills Canada, Ottawa, Ontario……………………………………………………………………….. 426,594

Social Research and Demonstration Corporation, Ottawa, Ontario…………………….. 236,136

Workplace Education Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba………………………………………. 365,534

Young Women’s Christian Association of Canada, Toronto, Ontario…………………… 581,040

Transfer payments under $100,000 (2 recipients)…………………………………………….. 153,995

 

Posted in Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Policy, Federal Government and Literacy, Literacy and Essential Skills, Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES) | 1 Comment

Once again, OLES lapses millions of dollars targeted for literacy and essential skills

In what has become an annual blog post, I am writing once again about the lapse in spending by the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES), Employment and Social Development Canada.

The 2016-2017 Public Accounts was recently tabled in the House of Commons. While Parliament approved spending of $18,009,000, only $8,457,994 was actually spent by OLES. This means that $9,551,006 was left on the table, likely returned to general revenues.

I had hoped that the Trudeau government would reverse this trend. Last year, only about 39% of the budget was spent, this year 47% was spent. This underspending is far worse than what took place over the Harper years when, on average, 57% of the budget was spent.

OLES has not had a call for proposals since 2015. In my next post, I’ll look at what projects have been funded. In the meanwhile, one certainly needs to ask what the folk at OLES do on a daily basis and why, when literacy and essential skills are still issues to be addressed, the federal government continues its lack of attention and lapsing of money. Parliament thought literacy was important enough to authorize spending; why is it that OLES can’t spend the money it has been given?

Posted in Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Policy, Federal Government and Literacy, Literacy and Essential Skills, Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES) | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Literacy Nova Scotia International Literacy Day statement

Below is a news release from Literacy Nova Scotia outlining the dire situation facing literacy programs and coalitions.

For Immediate Release: International Literacy Day 2017

Friday September 8, 2017 is International Literacy Day, a time to acknowledge the importance of education, learning and skill development in a rapidly evolving world. Adult literacy programs are vital to Canadians who try to build better lives for themselves and their families. Workers need these programs to gain the essential skills required to participate in our increasingly digital economy. Family literacy programs support skill-building opportunities for children while encouraging essential skill development for parents.

To simply cut funding off to literacy programs doesn’t make economic or moral sense, but that is exactly what is happening. The four Atlantic Literacy Coalitions requested $600,000 – $150,000 of funding for core programs for each, but were denied. The result is that the PEI Literacy Alliance, the long-running not-for-profit provincial organization that has provided tutoring programs, learner scholarships and learning materials to PE Islanders of all ages for more than 25 years will have to close. PEI Literacy Alliance acting executive director Amanda Beazley says the funding cut will force them to shut down this winter, leaving more than 700 children without access to free tutoring.

“Almost 50% of Atlantic Canadians do not have the literacy and essential skills required to work and thrive in a knowledge-based, digital society,” says Literacy Nova Scotia executive director Jayne Hunter. “There has never been a more important time to support adult and family literacy programs, and it is heartbreaking not to have the federal core funding to do so.”

“As our jobs require more and more technical and digital competency, and as we have less time for informal learning with our families because of work schedules, the importance of literacy and essential skill development becomes urgent. Together, our Atlantic provincial literacy coalitions could accomplish a great deal, but Literacy Newfoundland and Labrador closed its doors in 2015, and the impending closure of the PEI Literacy Alliance leaves just us and the Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick to fill a void that is getting larger.”

The federal government must restore core funding to literacy organizations across Canada. Without federal funding, literacy organizations are being forced to reduce critical programs offered and turn away those in need of skills training. Without these programs, thousands of people will not be able to build the skills they need to get better jobs and earn family sustaining wages.

Literacy Nova Scotia (LNS) helps ensure that practitioners can meet the needs of adult learners through certified training and ongoing professional development opportunities. LNS provides referral services, financial supports, resources in the classroom including technology, and funding enhanced learning opportunities. Without federal core funding, our organizational capacity continues to erode and our ability to leverage funds for important project work is significantly diminished.

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For more information, please contact:

Jayne Hunter, Executive Director, Literacy Nova Scotia jayne.hunter@nscc.ca (902) 897-2444 or 1 (800) 255-5203

Danny Cavanagh, Board Chair, Literacy Nova Scotia dannycavanagh@tru.eastlink.ca (902) 957-0822

Posted in Federal Government and Literacy, Literacy and Essential Skills | Tagged , | 3 Comments

New publication on EI in Canada

Donna Wood has published “The Seventy-Five Year Decline – How Government Expropriated Employment Insurance from Canadian Workers and Employers and Why this Matters” through the Mowat Centre. Here’s a brief description:

In the latest paper from the Mowat Centre, University of Victoria’s Donna Wood — one of Canada’s foremost experts on EI — argues that Canada’s employment insurance system has in effect been expropriated by the federal government at the expense of workers and employers.

Wood explains that the system was originally designed to be co-managed and co-funded by employers, workers and the federal government. But a decades-long succession of government decisions have taken over the program while simultaneously ceasing to fund it. The result is that the businesses and workers that pay for the program have no meaningful say in it. Wood concludes by discussing how effective input from workers and employers can be reintroduced into Canada’s EI system.

Donna’s paper provides an excellent history of EI, as well as the social partnership between business, labour and government that used to guide decisions. It is well worth taking the time to read.

You can access the paper at: The Seventy Year Decline: How Government Expropriated Employment Insurance from Canadian Workers and Employers and Why This Matters

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