by Susan Witter
In June 1985 a major change to the National Training Program was announced by the Honorable Flora MacDonald. The new Canadian Job Strategy takes a broad approach to skill and employment training. One important consideration is the need to move undereducated, unskilled individuals into direct work placement, while placing lesser emphasis on classroom training.
Two of the six programs Job Entry and Job Development, were apparently designed to target women and men who are undereducated, relatively unskilled, and unemployed. Only one part of the six programs is directly targeted to women: The Re-Entry segment of the Job Entry Program is directed specifically to women, those who have been out of the labour force for at least three years.
Job Entry, which combines training and work experience, states that three-quarters of the maximum 52 weeks training time must involve work experience under supervision of a business or an organization. This leaves one-quarter of the program that could be devoted to off-site training, i.e. classroom training. What will happen to the undereducated adult who may have a grade 10 or less education? An individual with a poor educational background would have a maximum of 13 weeks to upgrade in basic skills in reading, writing, math, science, speaking, listening, and reasoning, not likely an adequate amount of time.
What effect will the Canadian Job Strategy Programs have on the Institutional Training Program? Will the Institutional Training Program be integrated within the Job Entry and Job Development Program? If this is the case it will have serious implications for the Basic Education needs, including English Language needs of our undereducated adult population. For example, how can one expect a woman with a grade 10 or less education to complete an upgrading program in 13 weeks?
Although enhancement funding is available for those needing more than 13 weeks of upgrading, in British Columbia at least, it is not being utilized. Job Entry projects, which have been approved for funding, are being pushed to 'get started' within three to four weeks of approval. The effect of this is that program coordinators must accept only those applicants with the highest levels of education, who are ready to engage in skills training. This excludes those who do not already qualify, and for whom, ostensibly, the programs were originally designed.
So far, the Canadian Jobs Strategy is failing to address the needs of the educationally disadvantaged, i.e., 29 percent of the Canadian adult population who have ten years or less of education. These adults who have a low educational achievement do not meet the requirements of the Job Entry, Re-Entry, or Job Development program where minimal upgrading in basic math and English skills is built into the program. It is not addressing the needs of the English - or French-as-a-Second-Language student either. This group apparently seems forgotten altogether, in the Canadian Jobs Strategy.
The needs of the undereducated adult are not being addressed adequately in the Job Entry and Job Development programs. Assuming that the programs can and will change, this concern needs to be addressed immediately.