A worker-centred approach means that the program is rooted in the needs of the workers, the learners. Their needs determine how the program is designed, what it offers, and how it is taught.
The objective of a union literacy program is to empower its participants. Programs promote union values like fairness, solidarity, and community. While building on their literacy skills, members also learn about their individual and collective rights. A worker-centred approach builds confidence and self-esteem. It strengthens the role participants play in the union, in the workplace, and in society.
Participants build on their strengths rather than focus on their deficiencies. This approach recognizes that everyone who takes part in a literacy program brings skills and knowledge to the class. It also recognizes the learner and the instructor as equals, working and learning together. A worker-centred approach affirms the importance of the participants' life experience and recognizes how it contributes to what it means to be literate.
Worker-centred learning looks at the individual's total needs. It is not solely guided by the needs of the learner as a worker. The goal is to enrich the lives of the learners and expand their potential not only as workers but as individuals, union members, family members and citizens.
A literacy program that is worker-centred is not limited to building skills for a particular job. It approaches literacy in its broadest sense and is rooted in the varied interests of the learner. It is a program that embraces life-long learning by opening the door to further education and training opportunities.
The curriculum content and program structure respect different adult learning styles and are sensitive to the participants' race, ethnicity, gender and culture. Cross-cultural understanding and anti-racism are explored as workers take an active role in setting their own educational goals. The curriculum flows from these diverse needs and backgrounds.
The worker-centred approach counts on workers to be active participants in planning the program and in the decisions that affect its design and content.