Elevating Ontario’s Workforce

Times have changed. The work that employees did twenty years ago is not the same as the work employees do today. The growth of technology, increasing rate of globalization, pressures of productivity and changes to health and safety standards have all shifted the demands of the workplace. Unfortunately, too many of today's workers or potential workers lack the skills necessary to compete for 21st Century jobs. Emerging in this economic climate is a skills shortage: skills that are required for available jobs far exceed the skills that job seekers currently have. In our current labour market, the potential of all Canadians to contribute to the workforce must be tapped, including lower-skilled adults, aboriginals, older workers, youth and others who have difficulty entering and staying in the labour market. To do this, Essential Skills Ontario believes that literacy and essential skills programming must become more adept at providing adults with the skills currently in demand so that there is better alignment between the needs of those who want to work with those sectors who have work to offer. This also means finding ways of providing literacy and essential skills programs with the resources they need to increase their capacity and provide this training.

Why is it important to elevate Ontario’s workforce?

  • Ontario’s ability to remain competitive is dependent on the skills of the province’s workers.
  • Bringing together industry and training to develop a coordinated system that addresses skills shortages benefits both industry and our most vulnerable citizens.
  • Providing clear and flexible education and training opportunities allows adults to progress and advance in the workplace.
  • Integrating vocational and essential skills creates clearer pathways to employment for the disadvantaged.
Essential Skills Ontario Initiatives
Career Ladders: The Next Step in Three Communities is Phase II of an initiative that will design the necessary platforms so that three communities in Ontario can develop and build local industry-specific career ladders.
Career Ladders at One: The Guide Book buillds on the experience of Essential Skills Ontario (ESO) and our partners, Literacy Link South Central (LLSC), the Literacy Network of Durham Region (LiNDR) and Literacy Northwest (LNW), in the first phase of our work at testing the implementation of career ladders in Ontario, as well as incorporates research on career ladder processes in other jurisdictions.
Elevate: Testing New Delivery Models to Better Meet the Needs of Adults is a brief that points towards the kind of solutions that could provide a better alignment between the needs of those sectors who have work to offer, so that Canadian industry can grow while providing vulnerable individuals with the opportunity to increase their labour force attachment
Career Ladders: Providing Opportunities for Ontario’s Working Adults is a new brief that explores Career Ladders, a promising strategy that can help working adults move into better jobs, provide industry with the skills they need and contribute to local community development.
Essential Skills Ontario’s dynamic training web portal guides human resources professionals through industry-specific essential skills solutions to their identified needs.
Over the past two years, Essential Skills Ontario (ESO), in collaboration with the Food Processing Human Resource Council (FPHRC) and various community service providers, have been working on an innovative workforce development demonstration initiative, Elevate Canada: Raising the Grade for Food Processing. Funded by Employment and Social Development Canada under the Adult Learning, Literacy and Essential Skills Program, Elevate has been helping bridge the gap between vulnerable adults looking for work and different sub-sectors of the food processing industry looking for workers.
In partnership with Literacy Link South Central, the Literacy Network of Durham Region and Literacy Northwest - and funded by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) - this project will test the emerging concept of Career Ladders in Ontario.
From Better Skills to Better Work is the third in a series of research briefs on Becoming State of the Art - which explores ‘Career Ladders’, a series of connected literacy, language and skills training programs that enable individuals to secure employment within a specific industry or occupational cluster, and allows them to advance to higher levels of education and employment.
Clearer Sightlines to Employment is the second in a series of research briefs on Becoming State of the Art - which suggests that by involving business and industry representatives in the design and delivery of literacy and essential skills training, employment prospects of those with low educational attainment can be improved.
Industry Shared Approaches is the first in a series of research briefs on Becoming State of the Art - covering industry shared: an approach involving employers and service providers in the co-design and delivery of training to address the mismatch of supply and demand in labour markets.
This discussion paper 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.
This demonstration project helped strengthen the capacity of seven literacy and basic skills program to deliver training and greatly contributed to an understanding of the effectiveness and benefits of workplace literacy and essential skills.
Further Reading
CLASP: Beyond Basic Skills – State Strategies to Connect Low-Skilled Students to an Employer-Valued Postsecondary Education
SkillWorks: Capacity Building in Support of SkillWorks Partnerships
The Joyce Foundation’s Shifting Gears: Educating Adult Workers – The Shifting Gears Approach to Systems Change
Canadian Chamber of Commerce: Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness
Ontario Chamber of Commerce: Protecting our Most Valuable Resource: The Business Case for Lifelong Learning and Job-Based Training
39% of the working age population (18-64) in Ontario do not have a post secondary certificate, diploma or degree according to the 2011 National Household Survey.
The employment rate for adults with less than high school completion is only 55%.
By 2031, it is estimated that 70% of jobs will require some form of postsecondary training
Low-wage service workers make up the largest portion - over 2.5 million people - of Ontario’s workforce.
Using a moderate population growth estimate, the labour force deficit in Canada is poised to reach more than 1,000,000 by 2031.
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