The evidence is very clear. Inuit and NWT Aboriginal people cannot take their rightful place within the wage-based economy unless and until they receive effective and appropriate education and training, including workplace and workforce literacy programs. All people need access to effective, realistic opportunities to realize their full capacity to contribute – regardless of wealth, gender, race, age or other discriminating factors.
Territorial and Aboriginal governments identified the development of new job opportunities for northern workers as a priority – especially for Inuit and NWT Aboriginals. Current policies and practices do not seem to achieve the desired results.
Territorial, federal and Aboriginal governments in Nunavut and the NWT must take action right now and make it a priority to develop and deliver effective workplace and workforce literacy programs for people with low literacy skills. They must ensure that workplace and workforce literacy is part of the overall approach to labour market development.
Workplace literacy programs must give workers a solid base of essential skills for successful employment and from which they can learn other, new skills. Workforce literacy programs must provide people with essential skills so they can successfully enter the workforce and/or training, and help reduce skills shortages in the northern labour force.
Workplace and workforce literacy is part of lifelong learning and education. It is much more than employment policies and practices created to meet the demands and business needs of employers.
Stakeholders need to form a collaboration and develop and deliver community-based workplace and workforce literacy programs. Program design and delivery must recognize and deal with barriers that many Inuit and NWT Aboriginals experience to full participation in community and economic life. These barriers include racism, community wellness, learning disabilities, lack of role models, unwillingness or inability to relocate for training or work, and physical space and time to learn.