Cost of literacy: A worthwhile investment (Guest commentary)

TD’s chief economist discusses the importance of investing in training
By Craig Alexander
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/20/2010

Editor’s note: ABC Life Literacy Canada, a national non-profit organization that inspires Canadians to increase their literacy skills, recently sat down with Craig Alexander, senior vice-president and chief economist at TD Bank Financial Group, to talk about why business should invest in improving the skills of employees. What follows is a Q&A between ABC and Alexander.

ABC: Is Canada’s economy strongly connected to the literacy levels of Canadians?

Alexander: The performance of an economy is driven by two factors: first, the size and skills of its labour force; and second, the ability of its economy to innovate through productivity improvements. Literacy is the cornerstone of skills development — it is the foundation upon which other skills are built. Canada has a modern, knowledge-based, services-oriented economy. As a result, the demand for greater skilled workers is steadily climbing. Foreign competition is also leading to greater pressure on businesses to produce higher-value goods and services, which requires an ever more skilled workforce.