Because privatization is a process that will likely not only continue but intensify, it is important to develop a variety of strategies that challenge some of the exploitative and less desirable aspects of it. One obvious area of concern is to fight for the rights of those women who are unable to access any government funded training. New policies are also needed to address issues of employment security for workers where part-time, part-year, contractual work is the norm. Information about wages and costs should be made available. Wage scales should be introduced and used consistently, and should reflect the level of knowledge, skills and responsibility necessary to these kinds of training programs. Alternative schemes allowing workers to receive benefits while employed in short-term programs should be developed and made available, as well as opportunities for professional development and further training.
The staff in private sector government-funded labour market programs for women are often working in isolation, which limits their ability to challenge exploitative practices and to build on each others' knowledge. Collective organization would help those in an increasingly competitive environment to share knowledge and skills in relation to proposal development, negotiations with government, industry and host-employers, classroom instruction, curriculum development, counseling and crisis management. Through collective organizing, workers can also more effectively address issues relating to wages, working hours and benefits.
Workers acting collectively can also have a stronger voice when arguing for approaches to program development that truly reflect the needs of the women participants in the programs. A prerequisite to a more inclusive approach to program development is the provision of funding and resources for developmental work--funding that would support the participation of women in the decision-making process and contact with women in their own communities.
Issues of quality and accountability might also be addressed through the development and implementation of national and regional training standards. These standards could outline ways in which government-funded training programs should be developed, delivered and evaluated (1). Licensing and accreditation of private sector training agencies are already underway in many provinces, but these activities need to be monitored to ensure that ongoing evaluation takes place and minimum standards are established. The experiences of participants in programs should be part of the development and evaluation process.
As was mentioned, one of the developments of privatization has been the creation of the Canadian Labour Force Development Board (CLFDB). The CLFDB has a total of twenty-two members: eight representatives each from business and labour, two representatives from training organizations, and one representative for each of the four "equity" groups. The Women's Reference Group on Labour Market Issues (WRG) was formed to advise and support the women's representative on the CLFDB (similar groups were established for the three other identified equity groups: members of visible minorities, peoples with disabilities and aboriginal peoples). The representative for women has been Marcy Cohen who was selected through a consultation process organized by CCLOW in early 1991. The Women's Reference Group consists of 16 representatives from various national and provincial women's organizations concerned about women's access to quality, training and education (2).
The WRG has considered as one of its priorities not only to challenge and critique policy, but to offer an alternative vision of a training system that truly serves the needs of women. Working towards this end, the WRG developed a package of materials called "Towards a Women's Agenda on Training" which includes a list of Principles for Training. This list is evolving and currently includes the following: