5.1 City of Victoria, BC
Recognizing a Problem
The City of Victoria took action once it recognized that it had a problem:
- employees were experiencing difficulty in training sessions,
particularly when completing forms;
- individual employees were seeking assistance.
First Steps Taken
- the City's Manager of Training discussed literacy training with a
consultant and other organizations in the region.
Designing and Implementing A Program
- program design was presented to the union for their consideration;
- senior management was consulted to obtain their support;
- funds were allocated for the program from within the existing training
- City Council was provided with progress reports.
- to improve self esteem;
- to improve spoken, written and mathematical literacy, for use in all
aspects of a person's life;
- to offer courses on a voluntary basis and open to all employees.
The model chosen was designed for the City of Victoria based on the program
developed by the Hastings Institute of the City of Vancouver. The program,
known as the Workplace Language Program is learner-centred and focuses on
reading, writing and the expression of individual experiences in written form.
Group discussions of individual writing samples assist students to 'make sense
in English', increase their vocabulary and understand grammatical structure.
The program was advertised through the use of posters and meetings between
employees and supervisors. Those employees expressing interest in the program
were guaranteed confidentiality.
Program Barriers and Successful Solutions
The following barriers were noted:
- initial embarrassment of employees to admit to literacy problems;
- difficulties in negotiating with the union over the issue of class time
being considered overtime.
These barriers were overcome by ensuring ongoing discussion with employees
and unions until all parties were satisfied with outcomes.