SUCCEEDING AT WORK - LANGUAGE STREAM

SUCCEEDING AT WORK (SAW) – LANGUAGE STREAM

The objective of this project is to address the limited English language literacy and proficiency skills for New Canadians and the Immigrant workforce in the Ontario food and beverage industry.

Starting in November 2021, the SAW Language Stream project will provide 20+ Ontario Food & Beverage Companies and 300 Employees with skills training opportunities by developing and delivering 10 online courses in 6 different languages!

This will improve workplace and food safety, support employees at risk of displacement, and support communities and wage earners hardest hit by COVID 19.

Increased food safety and workplace safety regulations coupled with new COVID-19 protocols require employers to upskill and reskill their workforce rapidly. With a large immigrant workforce, food sector employers' challenge is ensuring non-English speaking workers fully comprehend their job requirements, safety information, and changes to protocols. Lack of comprehension makes immigrant workers at risk of being furloughed due to the extra effort required to keep them informed. This is a sectoral issue across Canada that is especially prevalent in Ontario, home to the largest number of sector businesses with 2,530 (35%) and a destination for immigrants and New Canadians.

How does this impact Ontario's business? Statistics Canada indicates that one in three workers across the country will be born outside of Canada by 2031. Employers have turned to New Canadians and immigrants to fill their workforce needs and to meet production demands. We have a diverse industry with a large immigrant workforce, 31% to be exact, compared to only 23% of the overall labour force in Canada. The highest proportion of immigrants are working in Meat Product Manufacturing (43%), Bakeries and Tortilla Manufacturing (43%) and Other Food Manufacturing (42%).

We Feed Canada. The food and beverage sector directly employs approximately 280,000 people and accounts for 1 in 5 manufacturing jobs. The industry includes 7000 companies with 11 sub-sectors. The sector is dominated by small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), with 94% of businesses employing less than 100 people. SME's have been hard hit by COVID and have fewer resources to reskill and upskill their workforce.

THE PROGRAM INCLUDES:

10 e-learning courses at NO COST:

  1. COVID-19 and Food Processing
  2. How to Tech! Navigating eLearning for Success.
  3. Good Manufacturing Practices – GMPs
  4. Food Spoilage and Food Safety
  5. Workplace & Industrial Safety
  6. Lock Out Tag Out
  7. Sanitation Level I
  8. Basic SOPs and SSOPs (Standard Operating Procedures)
  9. Workplace Essentials – Oral Communications
  10. Canadian Workplace Cultures

The six languages are:

  1. French
  2. Tagalog
  3. Punjabi
  4. Spanish
  5. Mandarin
  6. Russian/Ukrainian

Technology Support:

  1. Chromebooks to support employee learning at home
  2. Tech support
  3. Onboarding and Debriefing Sessions

Evaluation:

To factually determine that participants experienced increased industry and local labour market employability skills as a result of training, FPSC will engage project researchers to develop evaluations during and post program for participants and employers. An industry first, surveys and evaluations will be offered in worker languages and translated. Employers will participate in evaluations as we look to continually improve this program.

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Background Information

Language barriers prevent immigrant worker’s ability to participate in discussions related to training inquiries, training and subsequent knowledge checks. This causes adverse outcomes related to job-related injuries and impacts overall workforce productivity and product quality. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that language barriers contribute to 25% of job-related accidents. This impact can be strongly hedged against through administering translated training products and information that supports workplace safety practices. In one case, a U.S. food manufacturer reported a 96.60% average post-training score after administering training material in Spanish to a group of 1,265 adult learners facing training barriers as non-English speaking labourers. Testing scores attributed to food handling behaviour and food safety knowledge were improved dramatically when education and workplace information was provided in the employees’ first language. We anticipate our practical project approach of providing core workplace and food safety education, products and supports in selected languages will substantially impact positive outcomes across productivity, employer ROI, morale, and most importantly, workplace safety.

FPSC’s Labour Market Information survey shows that of the 269 food and beverage manufacturing companies surveyed, the following training tools used in the workplace: On-the-job training (90%), In-house team members who provide training (84%), Manuals/ Handouts/ or Quizzes (58%), and Group talks (53%). On-the-job training in the food industry when working with immigrants and New Canadians with limited or no English falls into the known practice of job-shadowing. Not only is “job-shadowing” inconsistent and inefficient, but it also lacks scalability and is dangerous in terms of food and worker safety. Being shown “what” to do and not explaining the “why” or risks involved leaves immigrant employees in a knowledge vacuum, with little to no opportunity to upskill and advance and are at risk of displacement.

Succeeding at Work – Language Stream will benefit New Canadian and immigrant workers and their communities across Ontario. Nationally, Ontario was the province with the most immigrants in 2020, with 139,071 immigrants arriving between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020.  Toronto continues to welcome the most immigrants among Canadian cities by a very wide margin. It attracted nearly 118,000 immigrants last year or 35 % of Canada’s newcomer total. Ottawa welcomed 10,930 and Kitchener-Waterloo 4,585. Immigrants tend to be attracted to more urban areas initially. However, large numbers of processors from various sub-sectors operate away from urban centres. The Belleville/Kingston 401 corridor has recently attracted large processors such as JBS and Canada Royal Milk. Both are sourcing immigrant workers and offering relocation packages due to the workforce shortage in these areas. Meat processing largely operates outside of areas and face difficulty in recruitment, often relying on TFW’s. These sectors continue to have unmet labour market challenges and talent gaps critically impacted by COVID 19. Overall, our project will target over 20 urban and rural food and beverage employers in communities across Ontario such as; Kitchener, Waterloo, GTA, Ottawa, Belleville/Kingston, Brampton, Hamilton, Southern Ontario, Eastern Ontario.