In 2017, Alberta Workforce Essential Skills Society (AWES) pitched a concept to the Government of Alberta to train career development practitioners to integrate the essential skills into their services. Through a pre-training survey, we wanted to find out what career development practitioners already knew about essentials skills (the Canadian federal framework version), and how they were using them. From there, we built customized curriculum and training to fill the identified knowledge gaps through workshops, mentorship and support.
How do they go together?
Essential skills are the skills that help Canadians attain, maintain and retain employment. When people have essential skill gaps that aren’t identified or addressed, they may not be able to perform their job tasks competently, making their ability to retain their position precarious. Helping career development practitioners understand the link between essential skills and job competency yielded several positive outcomes.
Sue Oguchi will be co-presenting on “Integrating Essential Skills for Employment Counsellors” at CERIC’s Cannexus conference, taking place Jan. 27-29, 2020 in Ottawa. Visit cannexus.ca to learn more and register.
How was it valuable?
Through post-surveys and interviews, career development practitioners told us that the training enhanced their ability to perform their jobs, work with other practitioners and support their clients in more concrete ways. They said it helped to build confidence in their ability to support their clients. Some of the benefits of the training that they listed include:
- Career practitioners were surprised to learn that they were not all defining essential skills in the same way and liked that the training provided a consistent definition through which they could discuss and define skills.
- Understanding the skills added clarity to goal-setting sessions and led to better outcomes for clients.
- The tools, resources and assessments they learned about gave the career development practitioners a concrete way to assess and support their clients’ skill development.
- The ongoing support and post-training mentorship allowed practitioners to confidently integrate the learning into their practice and services at work.
- The training gave the practitioners a common language and strategy to approach clients’ skills training as well as to use with each other internally and with employers externally to address workplace performance and training issues.
The Alberta project allowed for the creation of some great tools to be used by career development practitioners. There are videos that showcase some of the key pressure points of the workplace as well as an annotated guide called Online Self-Study Resources for Newcomer Integration. Visitors to the website can also find many other free publications and tools created during other projects.
Career development practitioners are the key to their clients’ employment success. During the provincial project, we confirmed that increasing their understanding of the Federal Essential Skills Framework, as well as introducing them to the tools, resources and assessments available, had beneficial outcomes for the career development practitioners and their clients.
The success of the Alberta project led to a federal research project partnering with the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation to measure the impact of the model. The project goal is to develop a training program for career development practitioners to integrate the essential skills tools into their practice and services. Guided Pathways: Integrating Essential Skills is funded by the Government of Canada’s Adult Learning, Literacy and Essential Skills Program and runs from April 2019 through to February 2024.
AWES is inviting career development and employment sector professionals to fill out a survey to help shape the development of its new training system, Guided Pathways: Integrating Essential Skills. Share your experiences and perspectives in this survey, open until Dec. 8: https://survey.srdc.org/SE/99/AWES/.
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