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Free 'Employability Fitness' program to help adults with literacy challenges land jobs

Statistics show some 16 per cent of adults in Wellington County have difficulty reading basic text
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A charitable organization committed to helping adults who have literacy challenges is launching a free training program to assist those adults in expanding their essential skills to help them find employment.

Mira Clarke, executive director of Action Read Community Literacy Centre, said the ongoing need for basic literacy programs may be surprising to some, but statistics show some 16 per cent of adults in Wellington County have difficulty reading basic text — which can negatively affect their employability.

Many people who have no literacy are often very smart and highly skilled, said Clarke.

"It's not something people go around advertising," Clarke said of the literacy challenges many adults face on a daily basis.

The 12-week 'Employability Fitness' program will be offered at the organization's Cork Street location and is intended to offer adults the ability to enhance their essential skills, basic literacy skills and their oral communications in an effort to help them find and retain a job.

“If they get so lucky as to get a job, they still have to use essential skills all of the time in the job if they want to keep it. This is a good way of building in those long-term skills that we know are required in the workplaces — or even just in life — to really be able to thrive,” said Clarke.

She said the program combines many of the services the organization has been offering for some 30 years.

Learners enrolled in the program will be able to write a cover letter and tailor it for different job applications, as well as improving computer skills and even working on body language in interview situations.

It's important for the program to not replicate a school environment, said Clarke.

“A lot of people come through the school system and they have often failed or not felt really good about their experience. Sometimes they fell like just a number, they don’t feel like their needs were met. Maybe they had a learning disability or other challenges,” she said.

In many of their adult programs, learners are offered access to one-on-one or small group tutoring, as well as learning that is computer-based.

Financial support is available for childcare or transportation, which the organization says is in order to remove barriers to those interested in attending their programs.

At the end of the program, Clarke said, the adult learners who have completed it will have more confidence in their abilities and will be better able to manage stress while looking for work.

A registered charitable organization, Action Reads has been serving the literacy needs of adults and families in Guelph since 1987 and helping them reach their goals for literacy, numeracy and other essential skills.

The organization operates with assistance from the United Way of Guelph–Wellington-Dufferin and Ontario's Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, as well as from various service clubs, local businesses and individual donors.

Those interested in more information on this or other literacy programs are asked to contact Joanne Morant by phone at 519-836-2759 or to visit Action Read Community Literacy Centre at 8 Cork Street.


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Kenneth Armstrong

About the Author: Kenneth Armstrong

Kenneth Armstrong is a news reporter and photojournalist who regularly covers municipal government, business and politics and photographs events, sports and features.
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