Port Alice and Port Hardy, BC
Connect4Work: Digital Literacy for Displaced Workers
Project Lead: Trish Weatherall, Mount Waddington Family Literacy Society
The 100-year-old Neucel Cellulose pulp mill in Port Alice went into production curtailment in 2015, eventually closing completely in 2019 and leaving more than 400 North Vancouver Island employees out of work.
The remote area, three hours north of the nearest city of Campbell River, has very limited employment opportunities and the mill’s ancient equipment and lack of technology left about two thirds of the union employees without job-related transferrable skills.
About 75 percent of those workers are over age 40 and about two thirds have a significant digital literacy gap that hinders their ability to search for and apply for work. There are currently no reliable, regular digital literacy programs in the region.
The Mount Waddington Family Literacy Society is creating and beta-testing the Connect4Work digital literacy project for workers who have been displaced from their jobs to have hands-on learning in a small class environment – eight students each in the towns of Port Hardy and Port Alice.
The project will introduce workers to using technology to:
- look for and apply for work
- access online services
- pursue continuing education
- connect to family and community
Students will start from the basics – turning on a device, using a mouse or mousepad, understanding technology vocabulary – and build on their skills over six weeks.
The course covers internet searches and safety, creating basic documents, using email, using online learning platforms like Zoom, and an introduction to a variety of online resources from government and health services to banking and library services.
Laptops are available to borrow during class and to practice at home.