Workplace Literacy and Essential Skills Training
Frontier College Tutor/Teacher, Valerie Dykshoorn, with an employee in the Canadian Tire sports department
With the support of Yukon Education and the Canada-Yukon Job Fund, we work in partnership with
Whitehorse’s tourism and retail sectors to deliver a Workplace Literacy and Essential Skills Training
program. Employers contribute as in-kind partners by providing training space and wages for program
participants, many of whom are newcomers to Canada.
One participating retailer is Canadian Tire, whose full-time employees work with our trained instructor
during regular work hours to improve their language, literacy, and numeracy. The goal is to close the
skills gap that may impact job performance or potential for advancement.
Not only does the program offer practical comprehensive training of Canadian Tire’s systems and
processes, such as the store’s paging system and web site, it affords employees a comfortable space to
run through conversation scenarios, which helps to improve their customer service.
Weekly training occurs in the store’s boardroom, but often learning takes place on the store floor, too.
In small groups, we work with the Human Resources staff to upgrade their computer skills, including
Excel software. We work one-to-one with sales staff on a wide variety of areas, from issuing rain checks
to reading health and safety documents.
Canadian Tire realizes the benefits of this style of customized training on improved productivity,
workplace safety, teamwork, employee attendance and retention, and customer service quality—all of
which have an impact on profitability.
The Workplace Literacy and Essential Skills Program has been assisting our staff in building on their
confidence levels and skills in reading and speaking. This program is invaluable for health & safety, for
training and for improving customer service levels.
– Dwayne Lesiuk, General Manager, Canadian Tire, Whitehorse.
But most of all, the employees benefit greatly by having the support of their employer in making their
skills development a priority and leaving them with greater confidence in their work and daily life.
Keeping young minds active over the summer
Some campers posing for a group photo on the jungle gym at camp
Frontier College expanded its Summer Literacy Camp program in Nunavut, with a recurring camp running in Cape Dorset, and for the first time, a new camp offered in Arviat, through the support of the Nunavut Department of Education, TD Bank Group, Cisco, and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. Two camp staff members from Arviat were joined by two staff members from the south, to create a camp experience that made summertime learning fun! Through daily storytelling and journaling, the camp connected real-life experiences with tales read about in books to help improve the children’s vocabulary and comprehension. Over 40 children read five books each—the number that studies show helps to reduce summer learning loss, which can occur if children do not use their reading and writing skills between school years.
Camp activities like following a recipe to make homemade playdough, mapping, and creating home videos let kids be creative while sharpening their skills. The activities were so much fun that most of the time the children weren’t even aware that they were learning!
Summer Literacy Camps help to unite communities, with parents, Elders, and local leaders sharing their knowledge and experience during camp visits and field trips. By showing the ways learning occurs in everyday life—and having influential community members be collaborators in such learning— kids can see learning as fun and collaborative, not just something that happens in the classroom. Camps also build community bonds and encourage a shared culture of literacy and learning that benefits the whole community—today and into the future.
Heard at camp:
It is important for me to practice reading so I can do school. I practice lots at camp and read more with my little sisters.
– Rolanda, camper, age 6
It’s important to be able to read so we can learn new things.
– Shawn, camper, age 11
I like reading more now because there are more people to read with. It’s a little easier [too].
– AJ, camper age 7