Our Food and Beverage Sector Network is beginning the New Year with our own variation of “fireworks” - igniting and inspiring discussion, if you will, with your peers in industry on “Workplace Literacy and Multiculturalism”!
I learned a long time ago - undoubtedly during a final Grade 11 Math exam which forever remains etched in my mind - not to take anything for granted when it came to recognizing and identifying issues clearly. Needless to say, being able to read, write, comprehend and translate - not to mention simply enjoying the ability to communicate - are skills that we all need to be thankful for.
Strangely enough, appreciating the ability to comprehend the written word became even more apparent to me during my Honeymoon in Germany just a couple of months ago. We elected to explore part of Europe by train which if running from Point A to Point B might be relatively easy enough - however, our journey required three transfers.
Simply trying to figure out our tickets - how to purchase them, how to understand them, and how to find the train in the first place - was a huge endeavour. More perplexing to us though was that none of the trains were numbered or tagged… which became all the more challenging when the trains were delayed… there are boards with messages on them in a language that was not familiar to us at all… and two lonely Canadians with perplexed (although still romantic) looks on their faces wondering if learning German before they disembarked on their honeymoon to begin with should have been in their premarital plans. With people rushing in and out of trains, we finally started tapping folks on the shoulder to see if anyone could translate the meaning for us. Of course, this in no way compares to the larger literacy issues at hand, but as a very tiny personal example, I think it helps illustrate the sense of frustration, isolation perhaps helplessness that can exist without having the ability to understand the written word or communicate in the environment around us… Becoming literate can open a plethora of opportunities for those willing to learn and subsequently lead to some major impacts on our organizations!
As the population ages and immigration increases, we are seeing some real changes in our workplace dynamics - multiple generations coupled with any number of languages in our buildings - can certainly lead to some real management challenges from not only a culture standpoint, but also in productivity, efficiency and overall effectiveness of the organization as a whole.
We were approached by a few Manufacturers who have recognized the impact that literacy challenges have had on their organization and they expressed interest in learning more about what they could do to help facilitate solutions to these issues. Having a labour pool that can communicate efficiently and effectively through reading, writing and speaking builds confidence, self-esteem and motivation. It can have a direct impact on the corporate culture of an organization, may lead to more involvement and idea generation and potentially improve the bottom line.
Literacy is defined as "the ability to understand and employ printed information in daily activities at home, at work and in the community - to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's knowledge and potential." (Literacy Skills for the Knowledge Society: Further Results from the International Adult Literacy Survey, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Human Resources Development Canada and the Minister responsible for Statistics Canada, 1997).
We invite you to join us for a very special Networking Session focusing on "Workplace Literacy and Multiculturalism". In addition to your peers, we are pleased to have four excellent associations joining us to explore this very important topic. Understanding what resources and opportunities are available to business from organizations like these, can have a direct impact on your profitability and competitiveness. A brief overview of our presenting groups follows:
ABC Literacy Canada
ABC Life Literacy Canada is a non-profit organization that inspires Canadians to increase their literacy skills. We mobilize business, government and communities to support lifelong learning and achieve our goals through leadership in programs, communications and partnerships. ABC Life Literacy Canada envisions a Canada where everyone has the skills they need to live a fully engaged life.
Ontario Literacy Coalition
The Ontario Literacy Coalition makes adult learning opportunities possible by inspiring ideas and informing action. The OLC works to ensure all adults in Ontario benefit from literacy by gathering data and intelligence, cultivating partnerships, building capacity and advising policy.
As a provincial leader in workplace literacy and essential development, the OLC is engaged by 16 workplaces across the province to assist in upgrading essential skill sets of employees in a variety of industries. With the assistance of 40 partner organizations, the OLC helps businesses cultivate customized training curriculums to improve their productivity, while simultaneously helping employees improve essential knowledge economy skills.
Labour Education Centre
Established in 1987, the Labour Education Centre (LEC) is the education project of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council. From 1987-1998, the LEC provided Ontario Basic Skills in the Workplace programs to thousands of employed workers in Toronto and York Region. Since the late 90's, the LEC has been a community-based provider of Ontario's Literacy and Basic Skills program. Currently the LEC delivers part-time day, evening and weekend classes for employed workers in partnership with unions, employers, and community organizations, in workplace as well as union and community venues.
Metro Toronto Movement for Literacy
The Metro Toronto Movement for Literacy (MTML) is a non-profit, membership-based organization located in Toronto. MTML's primary role is to provide leadership and coordination for 31 agencies (24 in Toronto and 7 in York Region) that delivery adult literacy, academic upgrading and Essential Skills training programs.
MTML works with the network of agencies to:
* ensure effective communication between programs
* promote awareness of adult literacy and skills training with a wide range of stakeholders and with the general public
* coordinate literacy services planning, in response to the needs of communities and learners in Toronto and York Region
* deliver professional development programs for literacy instructors and program staff
MTML also offers a free information and referral hotline that connects learners, volunteers, employers and service providers with literacy and upgrading programs in Toronto and York Region.
Our Event is being held at the Hampton Inn by Hilton Toronto Airport Corporate Centre in Toronto on January 13th, 2011 from 9:00 am until 12:00 Noon. There is no cost to attend - a simple RSVP to me at firstname.lastname@example.org is all that is required.
Please take a moment as well to mark your calendars at home that Family Literacy Day is January 27th, 2011.
If you have any questions at all, feel free to touch base with me at any time! We look forward to your participation on the 13th and to "igniting" your thoughts on this very important issue.
All the best!