The key question being addressed in the study is the degree to which demand for literacy instruction exceeds supply for various levels of instruction and types of programs. Using data available from Employment and Immigration Canada I asked the following three questions:
A "What is the extent of demand for basic literacy skills development programs as expressed by illiterate persons in Canada through waiting lists for instructional programs?
B Is there a relationship between the demand for services and the program model, skill level, intensity (measured in hours per week), duration or size.?
C Are there significant barriers to the development of waiting lists as an expression of demand? What other evidence of demand is there?
A data set in which 332 programs providing services to 53,000 clients responded to the questionnaire was used. Of these programs, those offering 10 hours or less of instruction per week had on average waiting lists amounting to 33% of their capacity. Those offering more than ten hours of instruction per week maintained waiting lists in excess of 48% of their capacity. The length of time spent waiting averaged 2.3 months for less than ten hours of instruction and 3.4 months for 11 or more hours of instruction.
When the institutional code is taken into consideration the excess in demand for instruction is considerably higher for community based programs over 10 hours per week than for school based ones [75% excess in demand for C.B. compared to 30% excess in demand for school based] . Within the school coding the part-time programming is in relatively higher demand with an excess of 45% relative to the 30% 10 hr+ figure. This trend is reversed for the community based programs were the demand for longer programs is twice that for the under 10 hr. group.
Multivariate regression was used to test the validity of a model generated from the available data. The results indicate that program variables do correlate with measures of expressed demand although specific items were not easily interpreted given the available data.
Substantial problems existing in the reliance on waiting lists as the primary measure in assessing demand are discussed. These include a lack of consistent waiting list recording practices and theoretical objections to their use. Qualitative measures of demand are also evident. Most notable of these is the trend toward the use of community based approaches by institutions. This corroborates a key finding of the regression. The degree to which the capacity of service providers is utilized (100%) is also indicative of a strong demand.
These issues should be explored to a greater extent.