Workplace Literacy and Essential Skills Project

What is the project about?

This project focuses on literacy and essential skills in the workplace — the ability to read and write, use numbers, operate computers, coordinate activities with others, and use critical thinking to plan tasks and solve problems. Workplace education aimed at developing these skills differs from more job-specific training. For example, workplace education helps workers learn basic use of a computer; job-specific training would help that worker learn how to use a computer for her particular job, for example, for accounting or to update employment or customer records. Literacy and essential skills are the foundation upon which other job skills are based.

While employers have identified the need for literacy and essential skills training, few are able to provide it themselves, either because of a dispersed workforce or a lack of capacity and expertise. The dispersal of workforces is a special challenge in the North, as employers often have a small number of workers in all or most communities across the territory.

Many important workplace texts, such as policy manuals and employment standards, are available only in English. And written government materials relating to health and safety issues are often not written in plain language. These are significant barriers for many people in Nunavut for whom English is a second language.

What is the goal of the project?

The goal of this project is test models of workplace education that are well adapted to the unique Nunavut environment. We hope to provide employers with learning resources that are sensitive to the Nunavut labour market and workers with an opportunity to update and build skills.

What is the research plan?

The initiative has several parts: Workplace education pilot projects with Nunavut employers will help to find what works best in the North. Pilot projects are underway with two organizations in Rankin Inlet. As well, workshops and a made-in-Nunavut training manual will help embed essential skills in existing workplace programs, mentorships, and materials. Team members began their work in October 2009 and will wrap up by March 2013.

The project team is guided by an Advisory Committee made up of people experienced in workplace learning: Jennifer Archer, PLAR Project; Jane Aupaluktuk, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated; Helen Balanoff, NWT Literacy Council; Joe Brown, Nova Scotia Department of Education; Nancy Jackson, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education; and a representative of the Nunavut Employees Union.

Who is funding the project?

The project is sponsored by Ilitaqsiniq-NLC with funding provided by the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

For more information, contact:

Cayla Chenier
Project Manager, Ilitaqsiniq-NLC
caylachenier@nunavutliteracy.ca or telephone toll-free 1-877-230-6833