Pay Grade

Grading Canada’s Economic Recovery: The big picture,
Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2013

As teachers we are always interested in report cards :)

As literacy workers who are being held accountable for employment outcomes, this F for Precarious Employment especially worrying.
“Good jobs” are generally permanent, long-term positions; while temporary and short-term employment is generally considered to be precarious. This type of employment includes short-term contracts, ‘temp work’ and freelancing.

As of 2011, the most recent data available, 13.7% of Canadian workers occupied positions that were not permanent. Canada ranks 17th of the OECD of 28 countries with comparable data in terms of the current proportion of the workforce that involuntarily work a part-time position. ...

Since pre-recession levels, the proportion of Canadian workers in temporary positions increased by 0.7 percentage points of total employment – a proportional increase of 5.3%. While this figure may sound small, it means there are about 105,000 more workers in temporary positions today than before the recession.

Around here, adult education policy makers start with the assumption that the people who come to literacy programs are unemployed and underemployed and that a gain in literacy skills can change that for program participants - if not for the people that work there*.
Those that see adult learning as part of a response to the danger of further polarization in society argue that lifelong learning gives citizens the chance to acquire adequate skills to prevent low-paid jobs from becoming life cycle traps. “A Pareto optimal welfare state [through reallocation, improvements can be made to at least one participant's well-being without reducing any other participant's well-being] of the future might very well be one that shifts the accent of social citizenship from its present preoccupation with income maintenance towards a menu of rights to lifelong learning and qualification” (Epsing-Andersen, 1996, p. 260).

From this perspective it is worth noting that recent research suggests that a more equitable investment in skills enhances overall labour force productivity (Coulombe, Tremblay, & Marchand, 2004; Statistics Canada, 2004). Consequently, addressing unequal opportunities to adult learning is as much an economic as a social issue.

Literacy workers do their best to provide "menu of rights to lifelong learning and qualification" but have known for a long time that
Teaching people to read and write won’t create jobs that don’t exist, make it easier to get by on the minimum wage, or get rid of discrimination. (National Anti-Poverty Organization: Illiteracy and Poverty, 1992)
quoted in Literacy, Welfare and Work Longitudinal Research Project, Janet Smith, 1999

Literacy workers and learners are doing their part. This report card shows that policy makers need to do theirs if literacy programs are to "prevent low-paid jobs from becoming life cycle traps."

*Literacy workers are often "laid off" for several weeks every year and can easily be permanently laid off when funding cuts occur or class sizes diminish.

1 comment:

Tannis Atkinson said...

Thanks for bringing this all together in one place!