Join OLC for a Webinar: Program Effectiveness – How the Dashboard Can Help You

Join OLC for our first webinar of the new year- Program Effectiveness – How the Dashboard Can Help You. Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 1:00PM ET, Alan Middleton, Executive Director of Schulich Executive Education Centre and Assistant Professor of Marketing at Schulich School of Business at York University will you through how developing a Dashboard works to help identify the effectiveness of your marketing and marketing communications programs.

Too often organizations fail to measure both the effectiveness and Return on Investment (ROI) of their marketing and marketing communications activity using unsubstantiated data. The Dashboard is a tool that provides a format to help organizations plot their activities and direct the measurement of effectiveness. How can there be improvement without measurement?

In this free, one hour webinar, Alan will:

  • Introduce the performance Dashboard as a tool for checking the effectiveness of programs
  • Describe how the Dashboard works and its measures
  • Use marketing and marketing communications Dashboards as examples
  • Indicate how to develop a program Dashboard

To register for the webinar, please visit

Join OLC for Webinar on Knowledge Mobilization

Join OLC Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 1:00PM ET for our webinar: Knowledge Mobilization & Adult Literacy – Tips & Tools for Research to Better Inform Literacy Policy & Practice, hosted by Michael Johnny, Manager of Knowledge Mobilization at York University.

This free, one hour session will provide an introduction and overview to knowledge mobilization, which is becoming increasingly prevalent at universities across Canada as a process to maximize the impact of research.  This session will share the experiences of York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit and its numerous interactions within the adult literacy field.

In this webinar, participants will learn:

  • What Knowledge Mobilization is;
  • How is it supported at York University (especially in relation to adult literacy in Ontario); and
  • What the strategies are for literacy practitioners to utilize research to inform professional practice and public policy.

There will also be time for questions at the end of the webinar.

To register for the webinar, please click here or visit

Menial No More: Discussion and Reflections

John MacLaughlin, Manager of Program, Business and Partnership Development, and one of the authors of the discussion paper Menial No More: A Discussion Paper on Advancing our Workforce through Digital Skills discusses reactions to the paper since its release as well as his response. We invite you to respond and ask your own questions in the comment section below, on Twitter, Facebook or by contacting us at

Earlier this year, I thought it would be a good idea to write about the OLC’s experience in workplace essential skills and reflect on the changing nature of entry-level or low-skilled employment I saw in the hospitality, manufacturing and food processing industries.  It became difficult to ignore the implications these changes have on workforce preparation.  Menial No More is an attempt to capture some of the labour market consequences we are seeing in Ontario, Canada and in other jurisdictions.  Indeed, not long after Menial No More went to print, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED) published a report outlining issues in workforce skills and innovation.  The report noted the significant increase in skills required for ‘low-skilled’ vocations and the dilemmas facing employers in this context.  The OCED paper also noted the scant attention being paid to the skill inflation in these jobs, and questioned whether generic basic skills training can actually address the needs of people going into these jobs.  These are important issues with real ramifications – not just for policy makers and basic skills providers – but for the range of individuals who have traditionally used these jobs to get a foothold in the labour market.

Since the release of Menial No More, I have had the opportunity to travel throughout much of the province and I have been pleasantly surprised by the response from basic skills providers, policy makers and other stakeholders.  As a discussion paper – it has created discussion.  A couple of things need some explanation.  I have encountered  some debate over the use of the terms STEM and Digital Skills and whether we are using the right terminology in describing workforce changes.   It is probably correct that neither STEM or Digital Skills quite captures the nature of the shifting skills requirements in entry-level employment.   A more accurate description would be skills-biased technological change, however the unfamiliarity of that lexicon is an impediment and does not provide an accessible framework for an important conversation.   Of course, the conversation should not focus on the correctness of the terminology, but on the magnitude of  technological changes and the kinds of assistance our employment and training system can provide to the most vulnerable in our workforce.

Last week I was at a meeting of literacy and basic skills providers when the topic shifted to Menial No More.  Almost everyone agreed with the sense that employers were expecting more from entry-level employees.   The conversation became much more thought-provoking when we started to talk about who should be providing the unemployed with these new skills.  A number of people thought that it was an employer’s responsibility to provide the training for these skills.  Indeed, this is not a unique sentiment, as I have heard similar views from senior policy makers. During that discussion, I openly wondered whether we should be leaving the responsibility of training our most vulnerable to employers and industry.  I think publicly-funded institutions have a real role to play in this form of training and it was interesting to note that most of the literacy programs I talk tothink that learners would greatly benefit from an injection of vocational training.  The question then becomes: how does a literacy and essential skills program do this? What would such programming look like? And how can this be orchestrated in terms of funding?

Over the coming months, I will post on the themes and discussions emerging from Menial No More and provide some links to other initiatives that can provide a template for ongoing conversations.  I welcome others to offer insights to this blog as we look toward enhancing our basic skills system.


To read a copy of Menial No More, please visit

Join OLC for Webinar on Labour Market Agreements!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 1:00PM ET, OLC is hosting Labour Market Agreements: What Literacy & Essential Skills Programs Need to Know – a free webinar presented by Brigid Hayes, Principal at Brigid Hayes Consulting.

The federal government has passed responsibility for labour market training to the provinces and territories.  Each year, through the Labour Market Agreements (LMA), the provinces and territories receive over $500 million for training people who are not eligible under Employment Insurance (EI).  A particular feature of the LMAs is the priority placed on those with low levels of Essential Skills and/or without a high school credential.  These agreements have already affected how and to whom literacy and essential skills services are delivered.

This FREE, one-hour webinar will provide you with:
• An overview of the labour market agreements – what are they, how they work, and why they are important
• What has been happening in other provinces and territories
• The Ontario situation – a review of how Ontario has chosen to spend its LMA funding, especially to support literacy and essential skills
• Challenges and opportunities – why this should matter to the literacy community and what might be done to enhance LMA literacy and essential skills activities

For more information or to register for the webinar, please click here or visit

Menial is ‘Menial No More’

New discussion paper suggests ‘low-skilled’ jobs need ‘high-skill’ ability

A new discussion paper released today by the Ontario Literacy Coalition suggests that as a result of emerging technology, consumer expectations, and increased global competition, jobs often perceived as ‘low-skilled’ or ‘entry level’ need new kinds of skills – and that Ontario’s economy may depend on our ability to train current and future workers in these types of positions.

Menial No More: A Discussion Paper on Advancing our Workforce through Digital Skills proposes that in order for the current labour market to thrive, radical steps must be taken to enhance the skills of workers in these positions.

According to Statistics Canada’s 2006 Census, the reality is that almost one million adults in Ontario do not have a high school diploma. While these adults tend to dominate many ‘low-skilled’ occupations in manufacturing, retail, food processing, and service industries, more university and college graduates are filling these positions, as these jobs now require a far greater range of skills than before. For instance, coffee shop baristas no longer just serve coffee, but troubleshoot the Wi-Fi; and hotel room attendants are now often required to operate personal digital assistants while cleaning rooms.

“This paper focuses on a different demographic,” says Lesley Brown, Executive Director of the OLC. “Recent discussions about the problems facing our labour market have focused on the problem of university and college graduates finding themselves in ‘entry-level’ or ‘low-skilled’ employment. This is an important discussion, but we are only looking at part of the equation: perhaps the jobs we routinely classify as requiring low educational attainment now require a far greater range of skills and abilities.”

A recent paper released by the Martin Prosperity Institute notes that well over two million Ontarians are engaged in employment that is described as low-skilled or entry-level.  As the skill levels and expectations of these jobs rise, we have to start to think of how we can best tailor education and training programs in a way that are accessible to our most vulnerable citizens. For many workers, going back to high school to obtain their diploma or GED equivalency is not a feasible option – as it is either too time-consuming or costly. We need to find other kinds of training options for the most vulnerable in our society.

Menial No More suggests Ontario’s adult education system could be enhanced by integrating adult literacy and essential skills education with digital skills, basic science and job-specific training. Other countries are finding success by fusing essential skills, such as reading, writing, and numeracy, with digital skills and science, engineering, technology and math (STEM). The results to date have been positive, with workers moving to employment more quickly and earning higher wages.

With pressures on these positions and jobless workers mounting, employer groups, government, and the training community, this paper invites us to think differently about how we can design an education and training system that meets the needs of these workers and better aligns our work with theirs.

To read Menial No More: A Discussion Paper on Advancing our Workforce though Digital Skills, please visit

OLC’s Fourth Webinar on Continuous Improvement a Hit!

OLC recently hosted our fourth webinar – What is Continuous Improvement? What you Should Know About Lean – with presenter Tracy Defoe, President of The Learning Factor Inc. The webinar was very well-received with a lot of positive feedback from attendees! In this webinar, Tracy focused on what workplace learning practitioners need to know about Continuous Improvement (also known as Lean) as a workplace culture imperative for many industries worldwide. Through the understanding of Continuous Improvement, attendees were guided through different ways of communications and working effectively, as well as tailoring content and methods for workplaces on a Lean journey.

For those who missed the webinar, we have a recorded version for you on our Spotlight on Learning website – please share with colleagues and friends!

To view the recorded webinar, please click here.


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