Horse's Mouth

Well you don't have to take my word for it - as if you would :) Or Juliet Merrifield's.

Here is Rona Ambrose, Federal Minister of Public Works and Status for Women, talking about how the Canada Job Grant program will serve the needs of employers.

“It will transform the way we do skill training. The problem here was the taxpayer has been funding $500 million for every province, to the tune of almost $3 billion in skills training that’s delivered through the government. What employers have told us is that skills training that people are taking through the government are not to fill the jobs that they need."

“What we’ve done is something really bold, that the Chambers of Commerce have asked us to do, and employers have asked us to do. We’re going to offer the grant directly to the employer. The Government of Canada will pay $5,000 in job training grants if it’s matched by the employer. The province can then match another $5,000, for a total of $15,000. The province doesn’t have to participate but if they want, they can use their existing Skills Training Fund that they have."

“We’re going to work with them over the next year to see if we can align these programs but that job grant will still be available from the Federal Government and the employer. It just won’t be the maximum $15,000; it’ll be $10,000.”

We decided to take this out of the hand of government, out of the hands of bureaucrats, and give that money directly to employers so they can dictate the training they need.”

thanks to @Brigid_Hayes

You might assume that I would be okay with taking education out of the hands of bureaucrats but how about putting at least some of in the hands of educators and learners.

I wonder how unemployed workers will access this program, especially those who are currently in literacy programs. (In Ontario, literacy programs get 22% of their funding from the Labour Market Agreement funds that are being allocated to the Canada Jobs Grant program.) Will employers be encouraged to make these programs accessible to people who need to upgrade reading and writing skills as well as job skills? How will the government ensure that access to this program is equitable? For example, how will Ms. Ambrose in her role as Minister for the Status of Women, ensure that women have equal opportunity in this program? Quotas? Daycare? A Women in Non-traditional Trades program?

Hmmm. Maybe we need the bureaucrats after all.

In this Centre for Policy Alternatives Fact Sheet, Fast Facts: Literacy, Women and Poverty, Margerit Roger writes about how "many of the women living with lower levels of literacy and low incomes are also single parents" and "Not part of the workplace perspective or economic agenda, low-income women are at risk of being forgotten in literacy programming."
"It is important to distinguish labour's conception of literacy from corporate conceptions of literacy for workers. As far as corporations are concerned, worker literacy is defined in the context of corporate goals regarding productivity and profits. Where the production process, and more recently, the participatory management process, requires workers to use literacy skills to follow instructions, say, or fill out reports, then corporations may be interested in worker literacy.... This corporate conception of literacy is a narrow one. It is based on a limited understanding of the worker and of the worker's need for literacy in terms of his/her role as a cog in a workplace."
 Seeds for Change, Jean Conon-Unda

"Important as work-skill acquisition is, we do our society a huge disservice if we do not value personal, family and community health as much as increased employability or income. Unfortunately, literacy programs aimed at producing productive employees are exponentially more common than programs designed for people who are farther removed from the economy and labour market. Since 2006, the national literacy agenda has shifted so significantly towards work-focused programming that literacy for family, social or political participation has all but disappeared from our educational discourse. We have become so accustomed to measuring success in economic and statistical terms that we are seriously at risk of forgetting that literacy is also about individuals being able to “read their world”, inform themselves about choices, engage in community projects, or just help their children with homework."

The Centre for Policy Alternatives blog post,  New Shoes and a Haircut: Budget 2013 not so pretty for women in Canada, points to the ways the 2013 Federal Budget leaves women out of the Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! agenda. Are women being remembered in the Jobs Grant program? What about other groups of workers that face discrimination in the workplace?

And I guess we can give up any hope that the federal government is going to fix the problems the Temporary Foreign Workers program is causing for permanent, domestic workers - here is Ms. Ambrose again:

“There’s a new program through Immigration Canada that going to allow for employers, provinces and territories, to pick from a pool of (immigrant) skilled workers,” the people they need to match job requirements.

“That gives them much more control over the kinds of immigrants that they need to fill their labour market need. We’ve been working on this for some time and there is still work to be done but I think this is something that will be really welcomed by *Alberta businesses.”

*She was speaking in Alberta.


Maria said...

Ah yes - the old familiar - dispossesion- let us help you help yourself- wait a minute your are just not complying - you need to sign here, sign up,pull up your socks,tighten your belt - let us help you see the light - get you trained up - oh you don't want to work for 10.00 p.h. too bad - every job is a good job - you're worth nothing - we'll pay you what the market bears cycle rolls again...
BTW this episode form This American Life is worth listening too - but have a stiff drink to hand...

risky mouse said...

Hi Maria - It is a bitter truth for sure. I am looking for things that make me optimistic - often in vain. But things are becoming so over-the-top that I think we might be reaching a tipping point. Or not.