Testing new programs to upgrade job seekers’ skills

Across Canada, thousands of workers have lost their jobs because their workplace closed or moved, their job or shift was cut, or because natural disasters like wildfires or COVID-19 impacted the industry. Many of these workers who have been displaced don’t have the necessary skills and training to qualify for another job or even the ability to search for work using modern technology. Many of them live in remote areas with limited local job or education opportunities.

As part of a three-year national research project led by Decoda Literacy Solutions, new programs to support these workers will be tested in 11 Canadian communities in 2021.

These beta-test projects, led by local community organizations, are the final phase in the federally-funded research project. Phase 1 and 2 included focus groups, surveys, interviews and case studies to review community employment conditions and existing supports, and to identify gaps.

“The beta-test phase takes all the knowledge that literacy organizations and practitioners have gathered about the needs of workers and puts it into action,” says Heather Deal, Director of Adult and Workplace Learning at Decoda. “Each of the 11 regions will test unique programs developed for the local community to address local employment issues.”

The sites were chosen based on proposals that were reviewed by a selection committee comprised of project staff, partners and members of the Displaced Worker Project Canadian National Advisory Committee (CNAC).

Communities awarded funding for beta-test projects include Columbia Basin, Fort Nelson, Fraser Lake, Gold River/Campbell River, Port Alice/Port Hardy, Pemberton and Quesnel, in British Columbia; Lethbridge, Alberta; Coronach, Saskatchewan; and Belleville and Chatham, Ontario.

Program themes range from driver training preparation, to Literacy and Essential Skills (LES) and digital technology skills, to building skills among women and matching services to workers.

Programs will be evaluated at the end of 2021 and results reported in 2022. Promising practices and programs will have potential to expand across the country to help more people transition to new work.

“With evolving support and resources for job retraining programs across Canada, it’s key to know that programs will produce results – that people, families and communities will benefit from workers having access to employment opportunities.” – Heather Deal

Learn more about the Displaced Workers Project.

This project has been funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Adult Learning, Literacy and Essential Skills Program.

As BC’s provincial literacy organization, Decoda Literacy Solutions provides resources, training and funds to support community-based literacy programs and initiatives in over 400 communities across BC.

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