In the dynamic landscape of the Canadian job market, a staggering 84% of positions demand essential computer skills, according to the 2016 findings by the Information and Communications Technology Council. Even low-skilled roles now necessitate a foundational level of digital literacy, as underscored by Essential Skills Ontario. However, amidst this evolving landscape, numerous barriers hinder individuals from cultivating these indispensable digital skills.
Common challenges include a lack of digital access, spanning hardware, software, and internet connectivity. Additionally, limited literacy and numeracy skills, financial or geographical barriers, and a shortage of intermediate-level programs serve as impediments to the growth of digital literacy, as highlighted in the Brookfield Institute’s 2018 report, “Levelling Up: The Quest for Digital Literacy.”
Examining the demographics of Canada’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) workforce further complicates the narrative. A 2016 report from the Information and Communications Technology Council discloses that a significant 40% of ICT workers are immigrants, a notably higher proportion than in other professions. Strikingly, most of these immigrants are permanent residents, signaling a reliance on immigration to fill the skilled digital jobs gap rather than a substantial investment in domestic education.
Despite the escalating demand for digital skills, a substantial segment of working-age Canadians grapples with problem-solving in technology-rich environments, according to Statistics Canada’s 2013 report. This challenge is particularly pronounced among underrepresented groups, including Indigenous peoples, immigrants, language minorities, and 16-24-year-olds.
Furthermore, a 2015 Ipsos Reid study revealed that 9% of Canadians lack home internet access. Those without internet subscriptions are typically older (over 55 years old), less educated, and possess considerably lower household incomes, averaging around $44,000 per year.
In the exploration of the multifaceted challenges of digital literacy in Canada, it is imperative to spotlight effective solutions. One such program making a significant impact is “Narrowing the Gender Gap” (NGG). This initiative, by StratHR Solutions Inc., is partly funded by the Government of Canada and designed to equip women with skills for success across the country.
NGG offers free training to all women, including survivors or victims of domestic violence. The program empowers participants, providing them with the skills to participate and thrive in learning, work, and life. Tailored for women contemplating career changes, reskilling, or upskilling in the ever-shifting job landscape, NGG specifically addresses the unique challenges faced by women in the workforce.
The program features two distinct career pathways: the Employment Pathway and the Entrepreneurship Pathway. The Entrepreneurship Pathway aims to empower women interested in starting or growing their businesses.
NGG is a free bilingual and national job readiness program designed to train, equip, and support Canadian women impacted by domestic violence, intimate partner violence, or family violence with employability skills for success. By maximizing potentials, overcoming shame, and restoring dignity, NGG contributes to narrowing the gender gap in the workforce.
In the context of literacy challenges in Canada, NGG serves as an effective solution. The program’s tailored career coaching, whether virtual or in person, is designed to equip women with the skills needed for success. According to StratHR Solutions, 4 out of 5 candidates indicate that executive coaching sessions had the greatest impact on their success.
In a landscape where job searches are vastly different from what they used to be, NGG stands as a beacon, providing women with the necessary tools to overcome digital literacy challenges, empowering them to thrive in the dynamic Canadian job market. Stay informed, stay connected!