SOURCE: ABC Life Literacy Canada

ABC Life Literacy Canada


March 10, 2016 10:00 ET

Literacy and Essential Skills Are Critical for the Future of Workplace Training

ABC Life Literacy Canada's UPskill Initiative Is Poised to Advance Essential Skills Training Across Canada

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - March 10, 2016) - ABC Life Literacy Canada (ABC) is hosting cross-sectoral partners in Winnipeg, Manitoba on March 10, 2016 to drive home the importance of improving literacy and essentials skills training in Canadian workplaces. Key influencers in attendance include Julie Cafley, Vice-President, Public Policy Forum; Jessica Dumas, Chair, Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce; Ron Koslowsky, Director Winnipeg, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters; Maria Pacella, Executive Director, Skills Canada Manitoba; Jane Rooney, Canada's Financial Literacy Leader; and Gina Smoke, National Representative, UNIFOR.

Held at Boeing Canada's head office, this event brings together government, NGOs, business and unions leaders, all united in the belief that improving literacy and essential skills in the Canadian workforce is critical to improving the Canadian economy, and the health and well-being of the Canadian workforce. As part of the event, attendees will celebrate the official launch of ABC's UPskill initiative.

UPskill, which was introduced on Essential Skills Day in the fall of 2015, is a social enterprise that works with business leaders to demonstrate the value and measurable return on investment of literacy and essential skills training. By establishing a commitment from business leaders to embed literacy and essential skills training in the workplace and improving the foundational skills of Canadians, UPskill improves individual business outcomes -- as well as the economic resilience of Canada.

Last month ABC announced Great West Life, London Life and Canada Life's commitment to invest in UPskill, as a founding partner, with catalytic funding that has propelled the initiative into a viable enterprise.

"ABC recognizes that creating lasting change requires a collaborative approach among stakeholders from across sectors," said Gillian Mason, President, ABC Life Literacy Canada. "UPskill is a long overdue and critical workforce initiative that has support from over 30 private sector, union and non-profit organizations and stakeholder groups. Together, we can multiply our impact and ensure that literacy and essential skills training becomes part of the workplace learning culture in Canada."

Essential skills training for business provides solutions for common issues in the workplace including: adapting to changes in business, health and safety concerns, errors and waste, incorrect paperwork and document use, ineffective communications, as well as teamwork and leadership needs. The nine essential skills, used by employees in every job are: reading, writing, numeracy, document use, oral communication, working with others, computer use, thinking skills and continuous learning.

"In today's rapidly changing economy, Canadians need more opportunities to improve their skills. We are encouraged to see that organizations like ABC Life Literacy Canada recognize this priority. UPskill is a good example of how employers and training providers can work together to support Canadians to develop the skills they need to succeed," said the Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour. 

A key element of UPskill is the development of an UPskill Corporate Charter for businesses, to recognize their commitment to investing in the literacy and essential skills of their workforce. The Charter encourages industry leaders to endorse literacy and essential skills training as an important part of their business strategy.

Boeing Canada Operations Limited (Boeing) will receive the inaugural UPskill Corporate Charter to recognize the exemplary steps they have taken to support their workforce and business outcomes through literacy and essential skills training. Boeing's leadership and investment in literacy and essential skills training is a beacon for business leaders across Canada. Their commitment to providing targeted literacy and essential skills training to employees exemplifies a workplace model that acknowledges the importance of embedding literacy and essential skills training into business learning culture.

"Boeing Winnipeg is on the cutting edge of technology and we build the best aircraft products in the industry. This is all possible because of our people -- Boeing is a great place to have a career. It's through the investment in our people including training and upskilling which will allow The Boeing Company to be even more successful over the next 100 years," says Kim Westenskow, General Manager, Boeing Canada Operations Limited.

In addition to the UPskill Corporate Charter, UPskill is developing a quality assurance framework for workplace literacy and essential skills training and, in partnership with the Institute of Performance and Learning, creating professional accreditation for trainers.

Visit for information, resources and tools to help make literacy and essential skills training a priority in your workplace.

About ABC Life Literacy Canada:
ABC Life Literacy Canada is a non-profit organization that inspires Canadians to increase their literacy skills. We mobilize business, government and communities to support lifelong learning and achieve our goals through leadership in programs, communications and partnerships. ABC Life Literacy Canada envisions a Canada where everyone has the skills they need to live a fully engaged life. For the latest news and information on adult literacy please visit, follow us on Twitter or join our Facebook page.

Contact Information

  • For more media information, please contact:

    Stephanie Wells
    Manager, Communications
    ABC Life Literacy Canada 
    1-800-303-1004 ext. 122