|JOBS, JOBS, JOBS...|
The literacy community has always recognized the connection between education and employment, as well as the various personal and systemic barriers faced by literacy students. Another important barrier not yet mentioned however, is the lack of what some people have come to call "real jobs".
At one time, people with lower education levels could compete for employment at decent wages. Nowadays, even those jobs are being snatched up by university graduates who cannot obtain work in their fields. Adults with limited education levels and other barriers are faced with a challenging employment picture. According to Globe and Mail columnist, Bruce Little,
The official unemployment rate in Canada hovers somewhere around 10 percent. Labour market specialists often say that the number is actually much higher, since it does not take into consideration the number of 'discouraged workers': those who have given up searching for jobs or the number of underemployed workers: those who would like full-time jobs but cannot find them. (Schellenberg & Ross: 1997).
Certain populations are most vulnerable to the current labour situation: single parents (mostly women), persons with disabilities, older workers, youth (their unemployment rate is close to 16%; and almost 30% for those who have completed only some high school6), and undereducated workers.
While there are some indications that this situation is improving (employment rates have risen slightly and several new federal and private sector job creation projects have been announced for youth), change is still slow and for many, imperceptible. The global economy has its price. Many Canadian factories have either shut down, moved to countries where labour costs are lower, or "down-sized", resulting in job losses of thousands of workers. Some economists are starting to predict the expansion of a "two-tiered society of rich and poor (which will threaten) the new prosperity''7
5 Little, Bruce "Prospects For The Poor Get Poorer' Globe & Mail, Toronto, March 24, 1997, p. A7
6 Chamberlain, Art "Private Sector Tackles Job",' Brandon Sun, Brandon, Manitoba, May 17, 1997.
7Brandon, (CP): "Rich-Poor Gap Could Swallow Us All", July 4, 1997
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