Mystique? What’s so mysterious about adult literacy? And what does adult literacy have to do with the Local Employment Planning Council (LEPC)? Good questions.

On June 15th, at Fanshawe College in Woodstock, adult literacy programs gave staff from community programs like Ontario Works and Employment Services a real taste of what happens in their adult literacy programming.

There are three adult literacy programs in Oxford County: Adult Literacy and Essential Skills (Tillsonburg & District Multi-Service Centre), Gateway to Learning (Thames Valley District School Board) and Academic Upgrading (Fanshawe College). These three programs get support from ATN Access Inc. to work with clients with significant learning disabilities. Together, the adult literacy programs in Oxford County work with 400-450 adults each year – adults who want to improve their skills, primarily to get a job or to move on to higher education so they can get a job, keep a job they have, or prepare for a promotion.

And as they showed on June 15th, each program works with clients differently. Adult literacy program staff gave attendees a glimpse into how they assess skills, highlighted learning materials they use with clients, and discussed the clients who are most suitable for their programs. One participant noted, “…today was the first time I’ve seen the different assessments. I learned they are a mixture of academic and practical testing (fractions vs. filling out applications).”

This type of event is an example of service planning. In our communities, we want to help people who need assistance with education and employment to find the service that is right for them the first time. We don’t want people to have to go to several different services, telling their story each time, before they find the one that can truly assist them. The reality is that educational attainment and employment opportunities often go hand in hand.

The focus of the Local Employment Planning Council is to hear firsthand from employers what kinds of skills they are looking for and to deliver that information to community educational, employment and other supports – the programs and supports that have a role to play in preparing individuals for the jobs that are available and in demand. Good service planning, however, starts with local programs being aware of what the others do, for whom, and for what purpose. Oxford County continues to make great strides in integrating services to help clients meet their goals.