Port Alice, Port McNeill and Port Hardy, British Columbia
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 created and beta-tested 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, Port McNeill and Port Alice.
The project introduced workers to using technology to:
- look for and apply for work
- access online services
- pursue continuing education
- connect to family and community
Students started from the basics – turning on a device, using a mouse or mousepad, understanding technology vocabulary – and built on their skills over six weeks.
The course covered 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 were available to borrow during class and to practice at home.
- This beta-test site has developed and shared curricula for their training delivery.
- This project has been selected to continue to the Pilot Test phase of this project.