Toronto Labour Market Information (LMI) and Adult Literacy Programs (LBS)
20 April 2023
LMI refers to data, statistics, and insights about the conditions and dynamics of the labor market, including employment trends, job vacancies, wages, unemployment rates, workforce demographics, skills requirements, and other relevant factors that influence the supply and demand of labor. It provides a snapshot of the current state of the labor market, as well as insights into past trends and future occupational projections, which can be useful for understanding the changing nature of work, identifying emerging job opportunities, and addressing skills gaps and labor market imbalances.
If we look at the adult literacy programs in general, the main objective of these programs is to not only improve basic literacy skills, address learners’ individual needs, and enhance essential skills but to also promote functional and digital skills. As part of Employment Ontario, adult literacy programs also go beyond literacy to support employment readiness that can include support in career exploration and guidance, improving job search skills and enhancing workplace communication and interpersonal skills. Therefore, adult literacy programs and labour market information often have a significant impact on each other.
Here are some ways in which adult literacy programs and labour market information are interconnected:
- Contextualized Learning:
LMI can be integrated into Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) programs to create contextually relevant and meaningful learning experiences. Programs can use real-world examples and scenarios based on current labour market information to make the instruction more engaging and relevant to the learners’ lives. For example, using job postings, industry reports, or workplace documents as reading materials can help adult literacy learners improve their reading and comprehension skills while also developing their understanding of the labor market.
- Career Planning and Goal Setting:
LMI can help LBS learners set career goals and make informed decisions about their education and training pathways. Programs can provide access to labour market information that helps learners understand the types of jobs available, the skills and education requirements, and the earning potential in different industries or occupations. This information can assist learners in setting realistic career goals and aligning their learning efforts with their career aspirations.
LBS programs can incorporate high priority employability skills training, such as communication skills, problem-solving, and teamwork, which are important for success in the labor market. LMI on the other hand can help adult literacy learners understand the skills that are in demand in the job market and tailor their learning efforts to develop those skills. This can enhance their employability and increase their chances of finding meaningful employment.
- Job Search Strategies:
LBS programs can provide guidance and support to learners in developing effective job search strategies. This can include teaching learners how to access and interpret labour market information, such as job boards, industry reports, and employment trends, to identify job opportunities and make informed decisions about their job search. This can help learners be more strategic in their job search efforts and increase their chances of finding employment.
- Addressing Skills Gaps:
LMI can highlight skills gaps and emerging job opportunities. LBS programs can then use this information to identify the skills needed in the labor market and tailor their curriculum to address those individual skills gaps. This can help learners bridge the gap between emerging or in-demand skills and their own competencies, improving their competitiveness in the job market.
The easiest way to learn about labour market information for literacy programs will vary depending on the learners’ needs, available resources, and program goals. It’s important to consider the specific context and adapt the approach accordingly to best meet the needs of the learners in the literacy program. Here are some examples on how various literacy activities can be developed using LMI:
- Reading Job Postings: Using real job postings from online job boards or printed advertisements, learners can practice reading and comprehending job descriptions, requirements, and qualifications. This can help them improve their reading skills while also familiarizing themselves with the language and terminology commonly used in the job market.
- Analyzing Industry Reports: Providing learners with industry reports or labor market analyses and guiding them to read and interpret the information can help develop their analytical and critical thinking skills. They can learn to identify trends, understand industry-specific vocabulary, and make connections between labor market data and job opportunities.
- Researching Career Pathways: Learners can use labor market information to research different career pathways, including job prospects, salary ranges, education and training requirements, and skill demands. They can practice conducting online research, reading, and summarizing information, and presenting their findings in writing or verbally, which can help them develop information literacy and presentation skills.
- Creating Job Search Strategies: Learners can work on creating job search strategies based on labor market information. They can learn how to use online job boards, search for job openings, and identify relevant resources for job search, such as career fairs or job placement services. This activity can help them develop digital literacy skills and strategic job search techniques.
- Analyzing Career Pathways: Learners can analyze different career pathways using labor market information and create visual representations, such as charts or diagrams, to showcase the skills, education, and experience needed for each career. This activity can help them develop their data visualization and presentation skills, and gain a better understanding of the different career options available.
These are just a few examples of literacy activities that can be developed using labor market information. By incorporating real-world labor market data into literacy instruction, learners can improve their literacy skills while also gaining valuable knowledge about the job market, career opportunities, and the skills required for employment success.
Metro Toronto Movement for Literacy and TWIG partnered in 2022-2023 to create a tool that could be used by not only adult literacy programs but also their learners so that they could find relevant and up-to-date information about the labor market, to help them make informed decisions, develop job search skills, prepare for the workplace, and personalize their learning. During the partnership, 3 focus groups were interviewed by MTML and TWIG and were comprised of literacy learners from LBS programs across Toronto. Based on their feedback, TWIG compiled data in the form of charts and stats that was added to MTML’s website at : https://www.mtml.ca/updates/labour-market-information/toronto-region. Moving forward, this data will be updated on a quarterly basis.
Overall, the relationship between LBS programs and LMI is mutually reinforcing. LMI can inform the curriculum and delivery of LBS programs, while adult literacy programs can equip learners with the literacy skills, employability skills, and career planning tools needed to succeed in the labor market.
Ambreen Ahmad is the Managing Director at Metro Toronto Movement for Literacy and the Co-founder/Director of StudyPages.