What is the overall impact of the initiative and how is this measured?
Key outcomes for students include;
• Successful completion of the program
• Successful transition into advance education/training
• Successful transition into the Labour Market
As an Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES) funded program the ESDW program will be implementing OLES Performance Measures Framework.
To date this very successful program has serviced approximately 66 students with a 70% completion rate.
Completion status for the second session ending in Feb. 2019 – of the 12 students who successful completed, 2 students went on to advanced education and 10 students were successfully employed.
Student progress is measured in the classroom through grading by instructors of assignments and demonstration of skills through the creation and presentation of digital products and artefacts.
During the 2-month work placement students are monitored on-site by ESDW staff weekly. In addition students and employers fill out weekly reports on their ability to competently apply Essential Skills training in the workplace.
What challenges have you faced and how were these overcome?
• The funding process took an extensive amount of time (5 years), especially between proposal submission, approval and cashflow which made planning very difficult. When funding was finally approved there was a very short turnaround time to begin implementation. Much had changed in the interim; curriculum had to be updated to accommodate changes in technology, staff turnover required new hiring, etc. This put pressure on human resources within the Department
• Securing adequate financial support of students attending the program was very challenging, especially for those students living independently or who had families.
Students receiving EI were not able to attend the program without being cut off EI. While these students would receive the program allowance of $400 this was much lower than what they received on EI so they were not able to financially support themselves/families during the program. This resulted in a major barrier for these persons to access the training. The college has been advocating for these students with Service Canada but this challenges had not yet been resolved
Student on Social Assistance were at first told that if they enrolled in the program they would be cut off social assistance. Again many students with families would not be able to financially sustain themselves/families on the program allowance ($400). This effected students in the 1st and 2nd session of program with some students being force to quit the program. Through on going advocacy on behalf of the program and the students, YTC and Community and Social Services Alberta have worked together and resolved this issue.
What are 3 key lessons you learned from developing or delivering your initiative? What advice from those lessons would you share with others?
• Be persistent – don’t give up on your project or getting what is needed for the success of the student
• Advocate: be ready to advocate for you project and your students and develop champions who understand the goals and impact of your project and will advocate for you.
• Understand who your students are, their realities, and their strengths and challenges.
• Have a solid recruitment and promotional strategy
• Have solid evidence-based data that shows the need for your project and supports project goals; i.e. Labour Market information.
• Provide students with the supports the need to succeed and overcome any challenges or barriers they may have. Need to open doors for students not add to their challenges.
Incorporation of Essential Skills
Which Essential Skills are covered by the initiative?
Working with Others
How are the Essential Skills integrated into your initiative?
Essential Skills form the basis of the program’s 10 modules.
The 6-month program consists of 10 learning Modules and a two month paid work experience: The Learning Module are:
• Indigenous Identity and Creating a Learning Portfolio
• Digital Technology and Computer Literacy
• Document Use
• Oral Communication
• Working with Others
• The Digital World of Human Resources
During the program students receive 1st aid, Food Handling and WHIMS (upon request of employer) training. Students also participate in land based learning and language learning (Cree and Stoney language instruction are offered through the program.) Every student participates in a mock interview before they leave the program.
How do you assess participant Essential Skills?
There is a pre- assessment using a variety of recognized essential skills assessment tools.
Students are evaluated throughout their course work by instructors. Assignments are graded and students demonstrate skills through presentations and the creation of digital products/artefacts.
During work placements students are monitored and students as well as employers report on students ES skills application in the work place.
What are the components of the initiative?
Occupation-specific skills training
Occupational certifications and/or licensing
Work-integrated learning (i.e., internships, co-ops, work placements, etc.)
Career and/or educational planning
Job search services
Cultural, language, and tradition awareness and/or training
How do you support participant success in the program?
Work related clothing/equipment
Job retention support
Access to other in-house services
How was Indigenous culture integrated into the program content or delivery?
The program builds on a foundation of traditional Indigenous culture, knowledge, and language. The program structure is based around the Medicine Wheel and each of the four elements of the wheel; mental, spiritual, emotional, mental is addressed in the program.
The program includes a module on Indigenous Identity.
Students participate in land-based learning led by community Elders and knowledge holders. Students are encouraged and given the opportunity to take instruction in their language (Cree and Stoney are offered).
What do you think are the most important competencies and attributes for staff involved in this initiative to have?
Staff need to be experienced, have good knowledge of the Labour Market and needs of First Nations Communities. They need to have connection to community resources/organizations and contacts with First Nations communities. They need to be culturally sensitive and cognizant of and respectful of the diversity within Frist Nations Communities, their differing traditions, teachings, practices and protocols. They need to know their students and understand their lived realities. Need to demonstrate compassion and flexibility and be willing to advocate for their students. They need to have clear boundaries and but not be a push over.
Who are your partners, and what is their involvement in the initiative?
• Office of Literacy and Essential Skills, ESDC Canada – funders
• Suit Yourself – provide students with free work appropriate wardrobes
• Red Road Healing Society: Child and Family Resource Center – provide students with personal/family supports and services such as access to food bank.
• Employer partners – provide work placements for students