Online Course - Module #8:  Train Ontario 1

Building Practitioner Capacity for Serving Learners with Employment Goals


MTCU’s training in 2004 was a logical extension of an earlier workplace literacy initiative introduced in September 2000 with the release of Literacy for the Workplace: Expanding the Skills of Ontario’s Workforce, Appendix 6 of the LBS Program Guidelines

In Appendix 6, the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities committed to: “building the capacity of our LBS funded delivery system to respond more effectively to workplace and workforce needs in their agency-based services and to be able to provide LBS quality training to workplaces.”

For the first two years of the initiative, activity took the form of research and development projects. For example, the Workwrite series - a series of workplace learning materials that many programs now use, was one of the products developed during this phase of the initiative.

The purpose of the Train Ontario training was to:

  • build on current practitioner knowledge & skill
  • increase practitioner knowledge and skill for serving learners with employment-related goals
  • create a strong common understanding across diverse groups of practitioners, agencies and cultures.
  • Increase general awareness of federal and provincial information
  • identify next steps to building capacity for serving learners with employment goals.
  • lay the groundwork for future professional development in the area of workforce training.

The title, “Learning Works” reflects the strong link between literacy and employment, and the important role that literacy practitioners play in supporting learners’ path to employment.

About this Course

This course is the foundation laid by the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities, (MTCU) for the provincial training in 2004 to help frontline LBS practitioners increase the effectiveness of employment-related training in their programs. Provincial training was carried out through regional, day-long training events and practitioners from every agency were invited to attend.

In the morning plenary session the Ministry outlined important features and foundations of a system of adult education that provides quality service to learners who have employment goals. The afternoon sessions offered a number of electives that helped with specific elements and practical strategies for employment-related training.

This course contains the material from the morning plenary session. The Table of Contents below shows that as well as the outline for the course, Understanding Employment-Related Goal Requirements, one of the afternoon electives. As resources allow, other electives will be added.

The National Context

We begin by looking at the issue of employment and literacy from a national perspective

The need to improve the skills of the Canadian workforce has been identified by all levels of government, industry, labour and social and economic “think tanks”. As we’ll see, many initiatives have been taking place across Canada making the case that literacy and lifelong learning is necessary in the world of work,  and for economic prosperity and global competitiveness.

As practitioners, we are an integral part of a National effort.


Federal Perspectives on Literacy

A number of initiatives have taken place at the federal level.  Let’s start with the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) of 1994. You may be familiar with some of the results of that survey.

  • 22%  of adults 16 years + are at the lowest level of literacy.
  • most reading happens at work
  • jobs that require low levels of literacy are disappearing
  • sustainable jobs require higher levels of literacy
  • literacy is a strong factor affecting an individual’s income

Literacy is a moving target. It’s defined by the needs of the context we’re in . The workplace is demanding employees to function at a higher skill level. The foundational skills that LBS teaches are fundamental to all future training. 

You can find out more at:

Federal Perspectives on Literacy

Human Resources Skills Development (HRSD, formerly HRDC)

  • 1992 National Occupational Classification System (NOCS)
  • 2002 National Innovation Strategy - Skills and Learning Agenda
  • 1994 Essential Skills Profiles linked to NOCS
  • National Literacy Secretariat

All of these initiatives support and try to address the shift towards a highly skilled Canadian labour force.

Did you know...?

that there are now Essential Skills Profiles (ESPs) for over 150 entry level occupational groups required skills in categories C & D. ESPs are now being developed for 250 technical & professional occupational groups with higher skills requirements at levels A & B.

NLS has special Workplace Literacy funding for nationally focused projects.

National Innovation Strategy was devised by Industry Canada at the same time HRDC developed the Knowledge Society Report. Both reports focused on the need to develop skills and innovation at all levels – university to literacy – to make Canada more competitive globally.

You can find out more at:

Labour and Business Partners

It’s happening outside of government as well. National labour organizations, business associations, professional associations are saying the same thing…literacy and lifelong learning are critical to a well-skilled workforce and Canada’s future success.

Labour and Business Partners:

  • Canadian Labour Congress
  • Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE),
  • Conference Board of Canada,
  • Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators,
  • Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters

You can find out more at: - Employability Skills 2000 - the Workplace Literacy Project of the Canadian Labour Congress

The Provincial Perspective

At the provincial level, the Premier recently released the following 5 objectives as criteria for the program review the government is undertaking in all departments. All funding programs provided by the government will be scrutinized in light of the deficit.

As you no doubt recognize, LBS supports all of these, especially “better workers” and “more active citizens”. The Ministry’s workforce/workplace initiative was certainly aligning with the provincial priorities and work done by the pilot sites was generating a lot of information that would form the basis of next steps.