Menial No More: Advancing our Workforce through Digital Skills, 2011

The reality is that almost one million adults in Ontario do not have a high school diploma. While these adults continue to dominate such ‘low-skilled’ occupations in manufacturing, retail, food processing, and service industries, more university and college graduates are filling these positions, as they now require a far greater range of skills than before. For instance, coffee shop baristas no longer just serve coffee, but troubleshoot the Wi-Fi; and hotel room attendants are now often required to operate personal digital assistants while cleaning rooms.

Essential Skills Ontario's discussion paper, Menial No More: Advancing our Workforce through Digital Skills suggests that as a result of emerging technology, consumer expectations, and increased global competition, jobs perceived as ‘low-skilled’ or ‘entry level’ need new kinds of skills – and that Ontario’s economy may depend on our ability to train current and future workers in these types of positions.

Menial No More gives recommendations for how to better prepare the almost one million adults in Ontario without a high school diploma for the knowledge economy by creating a more seamless employment and training system and by fully integrating literacy and essential skills education with digital skills, basic science and job specific training. Combining essential skills learning with digital skills and science in job-focused programming could provide new routes to success for the adults at risk for being left behind in an increasingly technologically advanced society.