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Employment & Training Programs and Services

Published Date: January 27, 2017
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Training for Work




Self-Employment training is a program element under the Training for Work program. It facilitates entry into self-employment by offering individuals formal instruction, business plan development, one-to-one business counseling, coaching, guidance and follow-up during business plan implementation. It is designed for unemployed and marginally employed Albertans who have a viable business idea, personal attributes necessary to be successful at self-employment, and who are in need of self-employment training.


The objectives of the Self-Employment program are:
  • to assist unemployed and marginally employed Albertans to create employment opportunities for themselves, and
  • to create additional employment opportunities in the community that might not otherwise be available.

Desired Outcome

The expected outcome of the program is full-time employment in the target business. Specifically, at least 70% of individuals who are accepted into and start Self-Employment training are expected to be working full-time (a minimum of 30 hours per week) following the completion date of the program.
However, a program may be considered successful if within this 70% of graduates, 10% gain full-time employment (other than self-employment) using the skills learned.  This should only be applied when the full-time employment was directly attributed to the Self-Employment training (i.e., the individual gained new skills in demand and/or transferable skills as a result of training).


Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible to participate, an individual is required to undergo an Employability Assessment to ensure that the following eligibility requirements have been satisfied:
  • appropriate service(s) have been selected based on need, 
  • a realistic employment goal has been defined, 
  • eligible to work in Canada, 
  • the educational or pre-requisite skills needed have been identified, 
  • a plan has been established, 
  • is 18 years of age or older, and
  • limitations or obstacles have been identified and strategies determined to support success. 

Individuals approved to participate must commit to:
  • attend regularly, 
  • actively participate and make progress, 
  • seek and accept employment after completion,  and
  • participate in the evaluation process (may include surveys, focus groups, etc.). 

Decisions with respect to an individual’s eligibility to participate in a Self-Employment program are to be fair and equitable. Individuals that are denied access can make a written request for a review of the decision.

The Self-Employment program is designed to assist individuals who:
  • have a viable business concept for starting a new business or taking over an existing business where they did not have prior ownership,
  • have the capital or access to capital needed to start and operate their business,
  • have the personal attributes to be successful entrepreneurs (i.e. self-motivated, risk taker and perseverance, good organizational skills), and
  • have the skills and knowledge of the products or services pertaining to their new business.

Priority will be given to individuals who:
  • own a minimum of 51% of the proposed business, and
  • are not receiving business training from a franchise company.

Preference will be given to individuals who:
  • have a business idea that may help the individual become self-sufficient in his/her own business and generate additional jobs in the local economy, and
  • are seeking participation in a Self-Employment program for the first time (e.g. have not previously participated in another self-employment program).

Worker Cooperatives may be eligible for participation in the Self-Employment program. A Worker Cooperative is defined as an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs, and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise. Worker Cooperatives are employee-owned businesses which operate in accordance with the cooperative principles and in which the cooperative’s membership consists of employees of the business. Worker Cooperatives are controlled on the basis of one-member/one-vote.

Employment Insurance (EI) Reporting Instructions

Instructions outlining the procedure for active EI eligible learners/training participants to complete their biweekly EI reports can be accessed through the Tools section of the Manual. 

Financial Considerations

Self-Employment program dollars are only intended to cover the training costs and supplemental benefits.

Financial assistance through the Self-Employment program is not intended to cover business start-up costs or for investment in the individual’s business.

Individuals participating in the Self-Employment program may be eligible for Income Support to cover living costs while in training. Information on individual eligibility and the application process is accessed under the Learner Policy & Procedures section of the Alberta Works Policy Manual.


Self-Employment program must be provided on a full-time basis up to a maximum of 26 weeks in length. During the formal instruction and business plan development activities, it is expected that individuals will attend a minimum of 25 hours per week.

Training components will be comprised of the following time frames:
  • formal instruction and business plan development will be approximately 8-10 weeks, and
  • implementation of business plans should be approximately 14-16 weeks.

Once individuals have completed the formal instruction and developed their business plans, they are expected to work full-time (a minimum of 30 hours per week) on starting and operating their business.

Under exceptional circumstances that are beyond the individual’s control and where income support continues to be critical or the business start-up will be at risk, extensions beyond 26 weeks may be negotiated to a maximum of 52 weeks. 

Program Requirements

Self-Employment program is intended to address all aspects of business operation including:
  • Formal instruction in starting and operating a business, including business plan development,
  • One-to-one business counselling, coaching and guidance through expert advising and consulting to support the identified skill development needs of the individual and implementation of a business plan, 
  • Ongoing support/Service Management will continue after the individual completes the Self-Employment training. The training provider is expected to provide advice, guidance and support to the individual which may entail on-site monitoring to ensure successful implementation of the business plan.

Developing a business plan is an essential step in setting up a small business. Its key function is to provide a map of the necessary steps to operate one’s own business. The business plan components are found in the Appendix:

The individual’s proposed business must:
  • be suitable for public funding and not in conflict with or potential conflict with  Government of Alberta mission, values and beliefs,
  • meet all applicable legislation and regulations (e.g. environmental requirements, historical requirements, noise by-laws, zoning requirements, etc.), and
  • be registered and located in Alberta.

The individual’s proposed business will avoid being:
  • in contravention of any law or at risk of such contravention, and
  • based solely on commission.

The individual’s proposed business will also be adequately supported by its parent company if it is a subsidiary.

Methods of Delivery

The Training Provider may deliver formal instruction and provide counselling, coaching and guidance through classroom, or synchronous e-learning methods of delivery.

Procurement Method

Self-Employment programs are provided through a fee for service contract.


Formal instruction and Business Plan Development means the training provider will assist individuals in creating jobs for themselves by providing advice concerning capital, training, coaching, and technical assistance while they launch their business. Training providers will design training modules based on the individual’s needs that are provided through one-to-one assistance, group workshops, or synchronous e-learning. 

Program Access/Entrance

An individual self-refers or is referred to a training provider. The steps in the application process are:
  • each individual applies to the program and provides all needed information to the training provider,
  • each individual is accepted into the program based on the viability of the his/her business idea and suitability as determined by an Employability Assessment and the Service Plan,
  • all training providers have the right of admission for individuals into their programs, and
  • information on the individual’s assessment and Service Plan must be entered into the Mobius system.

  • During the screening process, the training provider will assess the viability of the individual’s business idea. This evaluation should include, but not be limited to:
    • the individual’s strategic analysis of the industry and how the business will fit into current and future labour market trends,
    • the strengths and the weaknesses of the business and potential plans of action for correcting or negotiating such weaknesses,
    • estimates of required capital for start-up, operation and growth of the business,
    • reasonable timelines to accomplish pre-set goals and to measure progress, and
    • the advantage that sets the business apart from the competition (e.g. serving a unique market or promoting their product or service through web-based marketing).

Program Exit

A Self-Employment program concludes upon completion of all requirements of the training program. If the individual has difficulty completing the program, the training provider will assess the situation, consult with  Alberta Labour staff if required, and mediate changes with the individual that will contribute to successful completion of the training.

Program participation will be terminated at any time if the:
  • individual provides false information,
  • business plan or business is no longer considered viable by the training provider,
  • business is viable ahead of schedule and assistance is no longer deemed necessary, or
  • individual demonstrates inappropriate conduct, including:
    • non-attendance during business plan development training, or
    • inappropriate behavior (e.g. intoxication, etc.).

Individuals who are unsuccessful will be referred to Alberta Works Offices should they be interested in additional services and/or an assessment.


Glossary of Terms for the Self-Employment Program Policy

Business Plan – Developing a business plan is an essential step in setting up a small business. Its key function is to provide a map of the necessary steps to operate one’s own business. The business plan includes the following basic components:

Business idea – a description of the business idea and a personal resume.

Marketing research – customer/community/competition analysis, market estimate and local analysis.

Marketing plan – product or service design, location of the business and distribution of the product or service, strategies for pricing and promotion.

Organizational documents – any legal forms required for the business entity including insurance, bonding and business license requirements.

Financial planning – income statement, balance sheet, start-up costs, cash-flow analysis, personal financial statement, and source of financing.

Operational Details – physical set-up of business, internal organizational structure, staff required to operate the business, purchasing, quality control, inventory, customer service policies and procedures, and record keeping methodology or practices.

Formal Instruction and Business Plan Development – the training provider will assist individuals in creating jobs for themselves by providing advice concerning capital, training, coaching, and technical assistance while they launch their business. Training providers will design training modules based on the individual’s needs that are provided through one-to-one assistance, in-group workshops, or synchronous e-learning. The expectation is that individuals will devote a minimum of 25 hours per week to the formal instruction and business plan development activities.

Full-Time employment – working an average of at least 30 hours per week, earning at least minimum wage with non-subsidized earnings.

Self-Employment – to organize, manage and assume the risk to start a business or enterprise that ultimately creates a job for the individual and others. A self-employed person is also called an Entrepreneur.

Viable Business Idea – the individual’s business concept supports the needs of the local economy and there is a reasonable chance for the individual to become self-sufficient as a result of his/her business.