Key informants were asked what it would take for them to support workplace training programs as funders, employers, educators or learners.
Government and business can use policies to promote adult learning and local participation in the workforce.
Employers can make commitments to hire and promote local residents. Policy commitments can give people access to employment and the essential skills they need.
Programs to implement these policies are focused largely in the community college system. Other non-government organizations receive some supports to develop resources and the capacity of local residents to promote and deliver literacy programs. Instruments used to implement policies include: public funding such as federal or territorial grants to non-government organizations; education programs such as elementary, secondary, college or community-based programs; and procurement.
Government can insist that service contractors offer essential skills training or release time for people to attend training offered elsewhere. For example, the territorial government can insist that construction contractors keep licensed journeypeople on site and hire a certain number of apprentices. The Nunavut Housing Corporation has recently started a program like this. They require contractors working on a significant expansion of housing units to have certified trades people on all their construction teams. Over time the demand for apprentices increases, apprentices get the on-the-job experience they need under a journeyperson and more apprentices become certified.
Employers can offer training or provide paid leave for training to help reduce barriers to employment. Current practices in the diamond mines offer one example.
Mine employees may take basic skills training during working hours, pre-trades employees may take some matching time off for training and apprenticeship employees may take their apprenticeship exams on company time.
Focus group members and key informants described successful programs that had taken place in learning centres or on-site in the workplace. In every case, however, except for the City of Iqaluit, such opportunities were no longer offered, despite their success during pilot stages. Such training included Inuktitut classes for non-Inuktitut speakers in Nunavut and training related to job-required essential skills.
Employers can offer further support and encourage workers to use their literacy skills more generally on the job and in the workplace. For example, employers can encourage workers to read manuals, give them access to documents relevant to their jobs, or provide newspapers and other reading materials in lunchrooms or other meeting spaces. There is compelling evidence that people need to use their literacy skills or they lose them and employers can make an important contribution.
Employers expressed their interest in supporting increased skills among their own workers, and among the general population, to increase the pool of skilled workers from which to draw. They also expressed their frustration in knowing how to assess the needs of their company or their workers, or how to develop the curriculum for such training.