International Literacy Day

Today is the 50th Anniversary of Intentional Literacy Day.

UNESCO has set this year’s theme as “Reading the Past, Writing the Future””

The world has changed since 1966 – but our determination to provide every woman and man with the skills, capacities and opportunities to become everything they wish, in dignity and respect, remains as firm as ever. Literacy is a foundation to build a more sustainable future for all.”

UNESCO Director-General

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Council of the Federation Literacy Award

September 8, 2016 – Canada’s Premiers today announced the recipients of the 12th annual Council of the Federation Literacy Award in honour of International Literacy Day. The award is presented to recipients from all 13 provinces and territories to celebrate outstanding achievement, innovative practice, and excellence in literacy.

The recipients of the 2016 Council of the Federation Literacy Award are:

  • Blue Quills Literacy Centre – Alberta
  • Burnaby School District LINC Program – British Columbia
  • Margaret Banasiak – Manitoba
  • Evelyn Lewis – Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Peter Bowmaster – New Brunswick
  • Jean-Charles Richard – New Brunswick
  • Archie Laroque – Northwest Territories
  • Michael Hajnal – Nova Scotia
  • Saa Pitsiulak – Nunavut
  • Kenamatewin Native Learning Centre – Ontario
  • Jean Ellsworth – Prince Edward Island
  • Carolane Flamand – Québec
  • Saskatchewan Literacy Network – Saskatchewan
  • Audrey Lougheed – Yukon

Congratulations to all the award winners.

You can read the details about the award winners here: 2016 Council of the Federation Literacy Award Winners

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My submission to the FLMM

A few readers indicated they had trouble accessing my submission so I’ve included the full text here:

Year Two Review – Canada Job Grant Submission to the FLMM

Brigid Hayes, Brigid Hayes Consulting[1]

August 19, 2016

Background

My consultancy work is in the area of adult literacy, essential skills, and training. I have been tracking the implementation of the Labour Market Agreements (LMA) since their beginning. I viewed the LMAs as an opportunity for the unemployed and those without a high school credential and/or low literacy and essential skills to receive training to improve their employment status.

My estimation of the LMAs was that they were achieving positive results in funding/supporting training for those with low literacy skills. This group, along with other non-EI eligible individuals, were a key target of the LMAs. I saw no reason to abandon the LMAs. The decision to do so was made unilaterally without reference to the program’s evaluation.

The Year Two Review

I agree with the findings of the Year Two Review document prepared by Goss Gilroy. It is clear the Canada Job Grants (CJG) are benefiting employers. However, they do not meet the needs of a diverse workforce, job seekers, or those with low literacy skills or levels of education.

According to Goss Gilroy, some 37,000 participants were funded by over 5,000 employers through the Canada Job Grant. This compares to 360,000 unemployed and underemployed individuals funded each year through the LMAs. Clearly, a number of people are no longer being served.

What is the policy problem?

It has never been clear to me what policy problem the Canada Job Grant was attempting to address. The Minister of the day indicated, without supporting evidence, employers were the best positioned to make decisions about training and so the CJG favours employers. No documentation was ever released outlining the reasoning behind the CJG or examining alternatives such as the payroll tax used in Quebec or a tax credit.

From a public policy perspective, providing public funds directly to private industry to train the employed does not make sense.

The CJG requires employers to pay cash for training. This privileges employed workers, 85% – 100 % of the CJGs granted have gone to train the employed. Few employers are willing or able to pay for training those who do not work for them. In fact, according to the Goss Gilroy report, the CJG has trained employed men, between 30 and 49 years of age, who have a least some post-secondary education.

While employers do know what skills they need, they are not always in a good position to conduct training assessments or choose appropriate trainers. The CJG is not designed to assist employers to make these choices although some provinces, notably BC and Ontario, have contracted third party groups to assist employers.

What about the unemployed and those with low literacy skills?

Nothing in the CJG provides an incentive to employers to train the unemployed, those with low levels of skills or those facing challenges in obtaining and retaining employment. Goss Gilroy reports that 12% of those trained had less than a grade 12 education. This finding is consistent with other evidence that adult education and training goes to those who already have higher levels of education. The CJG has not changed that dynamic and rather has reinforced it.

The Canada Job Fund allows for one stream, the Employment Services and Supports (ESS) stream, which resembles the LMAs. ESS provides funding for the unemployed and those with low literacy and essential skills. British Columbia has been especially creative in allocating and promoting funding for ESS activities.

However, the ESS budget is only a fraction of what it was under the LMA. The conditions of the CJF force provinces and territories to spend less on ESS in order to meet the quotas for employer-determined training. This requirement means that the ESS stream will have little money remaining towards the end of the six-year agreement cycle. Several jurisdictions have called for more flexibility in using ESS funding while calling for the end of the funding targets.

The federal government announced in Budget 2016 an additional $50 million for the Canada Job Fund agreements. Allocating these funds to the ESS stream specifically for the unemployed and/or low skilled population would be a step in the right direction.

Changing how training is delivered

The CJG focuses on formal training or education preferably leading to a credential. As a result, training led by community-based agencies or individual trainers is not permitted. Indeed, Goss Gilroy indicates that private trainers or product vendors provided the most training. Providing public dollars to have Microsoft deliver training is not good public policy. Goss Gilroy found no evidence that the training provided would be transferable to other workplaces making the employer the main beneficiary of these public funds.

Even though all the guidelines issued by the provinces and territories indicate that CJG funds should not replace existing training funds, there is no evidence that this is the case.

In many cases, the funds flow through to the training sector, which has leveraged the CJG by creating $15,000 courses, exactly the same amount as a single CJG.

Transparency

Provinces and territories do not publish list of CJGs, the names of the recipient companies, or the outcomes of the grants. Nor do they post performance measurement data. Although each jurisdiction carried out a Year Two Review, these reviews are not publicly available.

Employment and Social Development Canada also does not provide detailed information about CJGs and many of the links on its website are broken.

For years, the non-profit sector and the public sector have been required to document publicly their spending. This is the least that should be required for the CJGs.

Determining labour market training needs

The role of government is to encourage the private sector. Direct grants do not appear to change behaviour and might actually replace what would have already been spent. Here I would challenge the premise of the CJG – that employers are best suited to be the sole decision makers. Public funds should be targeted to those with the most need. These are not the employed but rather the unemployed, those with low skill levels, workers in precarious situations, women, indigenous peoples, internationally trained immigrants and persons with disabilities. Alternative government incentives to encourage increased employer training do exist and should be explored.

The private sector along with labour does have a role to play as a partner with governments. Canada lacks a forum where these interests can come together to plan and respond to changing labour market conditions. The Canadian Labour and Business Centre, where I was the Director, Labour, filled this role, one that later would be taken on by the Centre for Workplace Learning. A multi-party forum (employers, labour, federal, provincial and territorial governments) would help address emerging issues and needs in a collaborative fashion.

Recommendations

  1. The Goss Gilroy report provides an excellent outline of what needs to be done to improve the current CJG and its recommendations should be implemented.
  2. The Nova Scotia recommendation to de-couple the CJG from the Canada Job Fund and reinstitute the Labour Market Agreement should be implemented.
  3. Provinces and territories along with the federal government should post performance results along with evaluation and other documentation on their websites.
  4. Alternatives to direct grants to employers should be explored to encourage employers to provide training. Alternatives include tax credits or the payroll tax model used in Quebec.
  5. A concerted effort should be made to make up for lost ground for the unemployed, especially those with low literacy skills or low education. Training for this group has stalled over the past two and half years. The $50 million allocated in Budget 2016 should be used for this effort.
  6. A national forum should be established with all the labour market partners to provide a balanced and evidence-based approach to labour market planning and training.

[1] Contact: Brigid Hayes, brigid.hayes@rogers.com, https://brigidhayes.wordpress.com/

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Canada Job Grant year two review

The Forum of Labour Market Ministers (federal/provincial/territorial) conducted consultations this summer on Labour Market Transfer Agreements (Forum of Labour Market Ministers). Each province/territory carried out the consultations differently but seem to have asked the same questions.

I prepared a submission dealing specifically with the Canada Job Grant (CJG). My recommendations were:

  1. The Goss Gilroy report [a roll-up of the provincial/territorial review of the CJG] provides an excellent outline of what needs to be done to improve the current CJG and its recommendations should be implemented.
  2. The Nova Scotia recommendation to de-couple the CJG from the Canada Job Fund and reinstitute the Labour Market Agreement should be implemented.
  3. Provinces and territories along with the federal government should post performance results along with evaluation and other documentation on their websites.
  4. Alternatives to direct grants to employers should be explored to encourage employers to provide training. Alternatives include tax credits or the payroll tax model used in Quebec.
  5. A concerted effort should be made to make up for lost ground for the unemployed, especially those with low literacy skills or low education. Training for this group has stalled over the past two and half years. The $50 million allocated in Budget 2016 should be used for this effort.
  6. A national forum should be established with all the labour market partners to provide a balanced and evidence-based approach to labour market planning and training.

You can read my full submission here: FLMM Submission from Brigid Hayes

Posted in Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Policy, Canada Job Fund, Canada Job Grant, Federal Government and Literacy, Labour Market Agreements, Literacy and Essential Skills, Provincial/Territorial Governments and Literacy | Leave a comment

PROJECT MANAGER / SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER

The Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks has posted the following full-time job in Ottawa:

PROJECT MANAGER / SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER

“The position involves project management responsibilities. It reports directly to the Executive Director.  Depending on experience and qualifications of the successful candidate, the position will either be Project Manager or Senior Project Manager.  Persons with extensive relevant experience are particularly encouraged to apply.”

The deadline is Friday August 19, 2016.

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Consultations on the Canada Job Grant

The Forum of Labour Market Ministers (FLMM) has announced a cross-country consultation on the various labour market agreements including the Canada Job Grant/Fund. The FLMM is made up of all provincial and territorial ministers responsible for labour market issues along with the federal minister.

In late June, the Labour Market Ministers announced a “broad-based consultations over the summer months to gather stakeholder perspectives and inform future investments in employment and skills training programs and services.” (see FLMM Communique) Of course, we all know that summer is the best time to consult people – not!

Along with the announcement, the FLMM issued a discussion paper that is intended to guide the consultations (see FLMM – Discussion Paper LMTA). Here are some of the questions in the discussion paper that I think apply to the Canada Job Grant/Fund:

Q1. Given varied and changing labour market conditions, what should employment and skills training programs be trying to achieve and for whom?

Q2. Are current employment and skills training programs flexible enough to respond to the needs of a diverse workforce, e.g. vulnerable workers, youth, Indigenous Peoples, recent immigrants and others who need particular support? If yes, what in particular is working best, or how can these groups best be supported?

Q3. Are all Canadians, in particular jobseekers and potential jobseekers, aware of and able to access appropriate employment and training programs to find and/or keep a job? If yes, what in particular is working best? If not, who and why?

Q4. What are the employment and skills training needs that employers see as critical to address their workforce and economic objectives? What is the role of employers versus government?

Year Two of the Canada Job Fund ended in March 2016. Two provinces – Alberta and Nova Scotia – have posted reports on their performance in the first year (see Alberta – Canada Job Fund Report – 2014-15 and Nova Scotia – Canada Job Fund Report 2014-15). The federal government contracted a Year Two Review; however, it has not made that review public. The Year Two Review was a key concession made in order to get the provinces and territories to sign onto the Canada Job Fund back in 2013.

Based on press releases, my sense is that the Canada Job Grant is supporting training of already employed Canadians. Alberta indicated that the most popular types of skills training include:

  • Project Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Risk Management
  • Health and Safety Courses
  • Leadership Skills
  • Financial Accounting Practices

I’ve not seen any Canada Job Grant money going towards literacy and other basic skills training. Provinces and territories can spend Employment Services and Support money on literacy and other basic skills training but the amount available is decreasing annually.

From my reading of the FLMM material, it appears that each province and territory will organize their own consultations. Many of you have experiences with the Canada Job Fund and have a good sense of what’s working and what’s not working. I would encourage you to contact your provincial/territorial labour market department and see how you can participate in this consultation

Posted in Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Policy, Canada Job Fund, Canada Job Grant, Federal Government and Literacy, Labour Market Agreements, Literacy and Essential Skills, Provincial/Territorial Governments and Literacy | Tagged | Leave a comment

Congratulations to COFA

La Coalition ontarienne de formation des adultes (COFA) has been awarded the only Excellence Award in the Enterprise category by the Association canadienne d’éducation des adultes des universités de langue française (ACDEAULF). This award is presented to an organization, other than a Canadian francophone university, for its outstanding contribution to the development of adult education and for its commitment to continuing education.

COFA provides information, coordination, communication and networking for its members who work to support francophone adults improve their literacy skills. Members work in adult education and training programs offered by the community sector, school boards and colleges in Ontario. The award recognizes COFA’s use of dynamic, active and leading edge technology, to create the conditions that allow the Ontario Francophone adults to acquire essential skills to achieve their training goals.

Féliciations to Michel Robillard and the entire COFA team. You can read about the award here: ACDEAULF Prix 2016 Comuniqué de presse

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