By Melany Hallam
January 27 is Family Literacy Day. You may not think it has anything to do with you as a person searching for work in Powell River, but literacy is more than just learning how to read and write. “Literacy” helps you learn new skills and increase your earning potential at work and can help you adapt to change.
According to ABC Life Literacy Canada (https://abclifeliteracy.ca/nine-essential-skills), there are nine essential life literacy skills that will help you get a job or get promoted at work. It’s all about being practical. These skills are:
- This may seem obvious, but it can mean anything from reading instructions for operating tools safely, to skim reading long reports for facts which may be important to a client’s welfare (in the case of a social worker or medical worker, for example).
- Document use. This can mean simple things such as reading and interpreting signs, labels, lists, graphs and charts, and can also be important to your safety at work.
- Numeracy. This is important in any workplace where math is used in measuring, estimating materials in construction or ordering supplies for a small business, scheduling yourself or employees, budgeting, checking your credit card and bank statements, and so much more.
- Writing. I can’t stress enough how important written communication can be to your work life. I’ve seen so many misunderstandings happen due to an email written in haste and sent without proofreading. Being able to get ideas on paper (or record and send them electronically to others via email or text) is essential to communicating effectively with co-workers, clients and managers. The purpose of written communication could be anything from organizing the delivery of supplies, to promoting your business or applying for your dream job.
- Verbal communication. Good verbal communication can also make your work life much easier. It’s an important way of avoiding misunderstandings, promoting your business services, getting any information that you need to do your job better, and more.
- Working with others. I’ve heard people say jokingly that they “don’t play well with others”, as if it’s some kind of badge of honour. I have even occasionally said it myself! However, this is a skill you must develop if you want to work effectively as a member of a team or even become a manager or business owner. You can make it infinitely easier to get a job done if people like you and want to help.
- This may sound a little obvious, but what this really means is “critical thinking” – for example, not taking every meme you see on FaceBook as truth! It means the ability to solve problems, make decisions, and plan and organize tasks at work.
- Computer use. I still meet the occasional person who says that they don’t know how to use computers at all. However, they do send email and texts – pretty much essential skills for anyone these days. Computer skills are also vital in order to operate cash registers, type a letter, find information online and create and modify spreadsheets.
- Continuous learning. Learning doesn’t stop when you leave school – whatever level you’ve achieved. Technology and workplaces are changing so fast these days that it’s essential to keep learning throughout your life. This can mean anything from being sent on a training course by your employer in order to advance at work, to getting your first smart phone and learning how to text.
Family Literacy Day is a national awareness initiative created by ABC Life Literacy Canada in 1999 and held annually to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities from an early age. Keep an eye out for this year’s events offered by the Powell River Literacy Council here (http://powellriverliteracy.ca). It’s never too late to learn.
Success in life starts at home, either with encouragement or with discouragement. Learning to read, write and work with numbers can either help you thrive or it can be a hurdle that you’ll spend your life trying to jump over. Which one will it be for you?
- Powell River Literacy Council is located in the new public library building, and offers all kinds of useful information here, http://powellriverliteracy.ca, including:
- Powell River Immigrant Services, providing ESL tutoring, at The Learning Centre, which is located on Marine Avenue, above the Bank of Montreal.
- Community Adult Literacy & Learning (CALL) runs out of the Dr. Elsie Paul Literacy Centre, which is located at the public library. Visit the CALL web page for more information about that program, or call coordinator Megan Dulcie Dill for more information at 604-485-4796.
- Looking to find out what kind of reading, writing and math skills you need for the job you want, start here, https://ita.essentialskillsgroup.com/
- Financial literacy resources from the Literacy council of Powell River:
- Practical Money Skills Canada, http://practicalmoneyskills.ca/
- Financial Literacy: Resources for Newcomers to Canada, http://prospercanada.org/
- Keep it in your pocket– Financial literacy resources for teachers, http://www.edu.uwo.ca/teacherresources/
- Financial Services Commission of Ontario– resources and tools for youth and adults to improve financial literacy, http://www.fsco.gov.on.ca/en/about/Pages/default.aspx