Workplace Literacy: The Lynchpin of Canada’s Inclusive Growth Agenda

Released: Tuesday December 12, 2017

Canada faces both some of the highest and lowest literacy levels in the OECD and this polarization is leaving many behind. We need to find new ways to add skills for workers to be part of inclusive economic growth.

young apprentice in industry sector with tutor


Workplace Literacy: The Lynchpin of Canada’s Inclusive Growth Agenda
 explores themes from six roundtables held across Canada from March 2016 to April 2017.

Watch the video from the report launch on Dec. 12 2017.

Report summary: 

What barriers do employers face in addressing instances of low workplace literacy in Canada? Preliminary conversations with a handful of employers at the outset of this research program suggested that the root of workplace literacy issues was in many cases economic. Employers did not see the benefit of training employees if the topic was not specific, its impact difficult to quantify, and if it didn’t relate to the individual’s or to the organization’s bottom line. Through a survey, six roundtables and approximately 30 supplemental interviews conducted from November 2015 to April 2017, a much more complex reality emerged demonstrating a number of competing issues that challenge our collective ability to address issues of low workplace literacy.

They include:

On the part of employers:

• Lack of ability to identify employees with low workplace literacy skills;

• Lack of appropriate skills and training to approach employees and have a constructive conversation on this topic;

• Lack of access to funding and programs to improve workplace literacy and essential skills, especially for small and medium-sized employers.

On the part of employees:

• Lack of willingness and ‘safe spaces’ to admit to low workplace literacy (in any area) and request training.

On the part of unions and labour organizations:

• A lack of mandate – and therefore associated time, programming and funding – to address these issues for members.

Download the report 


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