ANSCLO Position Statement
Proposed Changes to the Labour Market Agreement: Its Impact on Adult Learners in Nova Scotia
The current federal Labour Management Agreement (LMA) ends in March 2014 and will be replaced by the Canada Job Grant program as announced in the 2013 federal budget. This new program will provide up to $15,000 per person for training – in matching contributions by the federal government, provinces and employers. The goal of this “short duration training” is to “ensure that skills training funds are being used to help Canadians obtain qualifications they need to get jobs in high-demand fields.” Canadians accessing the new Canada Job Grant will now be identified by businesses, and the training will be offered by “eligible training institutions, including community colleges, career colleges, and trade union training centres.”
This is a significant change in focus from the original intent of the LMA, which was to provide training opportunities for Canadians who had not been able to access skills training opportunities offered through the Employment Insurance Fund, either because they were working, or they had no recent attachment to the labour market. As noted in the 2007 Budget, the LMA was designed to “help provide training to those who need it, including under-represented groups” (p.130). Community learning organizations were not invited to, or informed about, recent Canada Jobs Grant stakeholder sessions offered by HRSDC, so it seems reasonable to assume that they are not deemed an “eligible training institution” under the new Labour Marker Agreement.
Community Learning Organizations (CLOs) across Nova Scotia use LMA funds to provide programs that address literacy and other essential skills to help their learners obtain new or better jobs. Many learners attending CLO programs funded under the LMA are either unemployed or under-employed. The likely result of the changes to the LMA will be that CLO programs will be forced to end, further lessening the prospect of meaningful employment for hundreds of adult learners in Nova Scotia.
What is the Need in our Communities?
In Nova Scotia, 38% of the working-age population (16-65) have average literacy proficiency below a level required by our modern economy and knowledge-based society. The percentage increases to 50% for proficiency in numeracy (International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey 2003). In Nova Scotia 202,770 persons 15 years and older do not have a high school diploma (2006 Census, Statistics Canada).
Low literate adults are over-represented amongst the under-employed and the long-term unemployed.
How do ANSCLO Members Address this Need?
The Association of Nova Scotia Community Learning Organizations (ANSCLO) is a network of 27 Community Learning Networks working collaboratively to explore and address issues relating to adult literacy and essential skills.
Based on a significant body of research that national and international agencies along with all levels of governments have recognized, key literacy and essential skills are used in nearly every job. These skills include reading, writing, document use, numeracy, computer use, thinking, oral communication, working with others, and continuous learning.
Programs offered by our members incorporate the key literacy and essential skills which will lead to new or better jobs for unemployed or underemployed Nova Scotians. Programs are delivered through a combination of classroom and/or individual tutors and are tailored to the learners’ needs. The funds for these programs come from the current federal LMA which is scheduled to end March 31, 2014.
ANSCLO recently conducted a survey of our members to gain a better understanding of the impact of the “proposed” Canada Job Grant program. Twenty (20) of twenty-seven (27) members responded (74%). It is estimated that over 700 individuals now access free CLO programs funded by the LMA. The CLO Learners are some of the most vulnerable citizens of our communities and are mostly unemployed or under-employed. Attachment 1 provides a snapshot of CLO learners and some of their successes.
How Might the Canada Job Grant Program Impact Adult Learners served by ANSCLO members?
On average, approximately 32% of total CLO funding would be unavailable under the new federal program. The result would be a reduction in programs aimed at improving essential skills of our learners, thereby lessening the prospect of meaningful employment for more than 700 Nova Scotians. CLOs would also be forced to lay-off or reduce the hours of staff significantly, reducing their capacity to address literacy and essential skills needs in their communities.
Many learners attending CLO programs funded under the current Labour Market Agreement are either unemployed or under-employed.
What do ANSCLO Members need?
ANSCLO members need a continuation of funding or new funding to carry out work that is of critical importance to an at-risk segment of our communities. The federal and or provincial governments must recognize the benefits of current CLO program and the impacts of withholding these funds.
Why should Governments Continue to Fund this Work through ANSCLO?
Improving the essential skills of our learners has both social and economic benefits for society that far outweigh the cost of these programs. Experts have estimated that the return on investment to the government of Canada through addressing literacy and essential skills is in the order of 425% annually. These benefits come through tax revenue and program savings. For more details on this aspect see Attachment 2.
In addition to economic benefits, learners who have attended CLO programs have proven to be more self-confident, better able to adapt, more focused and more community-minded citizens (volunteer work etc.).
ANSCLO members are non-profit organizations and are uniquely suited to deliver these programs. Our members service the communities in which they reside and tailor their programs to meet the specific needs of local learners. Their programs are delivered at a far less cost than would be the case for many other learning institutions such as “for-profit” training facilities and community colleges.
For More Information Please Contact:
Peter Gillis Katharine McCoubrey
Co-Chair ANSCLO Co-Chair ANSCLO
Executive Director, Valley Community Learning Assoc. Executive Director, Hants Learning Association
(902) 679-5252 (902) 792-6754
Lesley Dunn Dana Atwell
Executive Director, Dartmouth Learning Network Chair of the Board, Dartmouth Learning Network
Executive Director, Eastern Shore Musquodoboit Valley Community Literacy Network
Executive Director, Adult Learning Association of Cape Breton County
For appendices, please click on this link: Proposed Changes to the Labour Market Agreement and Its Impact on Adult Learners in Nova Scotia Final June 6 2013