Employment & Training Programs and Services

Published Date: October 04, 2011
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Workforce Partnerships

Workplace Essential Skills Training Program

AUTHORITY

Government Organization Act
(Section 9-10)

INTENT

The Workplace Essential Skills Training Program supports workplace essential skills training through the development of partnerships designed to foster a confident, innovative and highly literate workforce. These partnerships will assist employed Albertans gain the essential skills necessary to fully participate at work and contribute to a highly productive workplace.

Workplace essential skills training supports people in the workplace to learn new skills and adapt to workplace change. Workplace essential skills include reading text, use of documents, writing, working with numbers, oral communication, thinking skills, working with others, computer use and continuous learning.

The objectives of the Workplace Essential Skills Training Program are to:

  • Support training opportunities in the workplace for working Albertans to acquire the essential skills to do their jobs competently, safely and productively.
  • Increase literacy levels of working Albertans
  • Assist employers with their workplace essential skills training needs to create highly productive workplaces.
  • Encourage the development of a learning culture in Alberta workplaces.

Key principles that govern the design and implementation of the program are:

Responsive to Needs

  • Program activities will respond to the needs of workers, employers, industry and eligible partners. The program will support continuous improvement based on feedback and assessment activities.

Adding Value

  • Program activities will build on the current skills and experiences of employed Albertans and reflect adult learning principles and practices used in planning, conducting and evaluating adult education activities such as outreach, life and career planning, financing, assessment of learning outcomes, adult teaching-learning process, adult student support systems, use of technology and strategic partnerships.

Partnerships

  • Effective program activity is dependent upon government, employers, industry and training providers, working together to address workplace essential skills challenges. Successful partnerships, collaboration, and cooperation will help all partners leverage resources more creatively and effectively.

POLICY

Partnership

To ensure that an adequate support network for the Workplace Essential Skills Training Program exists, each project must include:

  • At minimum, one employer partner, and
  • Training provider, and
  • Human Services.

Other provincial departments, the federal government, community partners, industry associations and/or labour groups are encouraged to participate as deemed necessary.

Requirements of Partners

Employer and Training Provider partners will:

  • Identify the training opportunity, and
  • Lead the project proposal process, and
  • Initiate communication with other partners, and
  • Identify the essential skills needed to succeed in the specified occupation through an assessment, and
  • Be a potential funding agent by contributing financial and/or in-kind resources to the project, and
  • Serve as a liaison between government and other partners, and
  • Lead the workplace essential skills training required for the employed Albertans, and
  • Provide scheduling flexibility to allow workers to attend training, and  
  • Evaluate the project and assess whether an increase in workplace essential skills occurred by the employed Albertans receiving training.

Alberta Human Services as a partner will:

  • Provide leadership and support to the project as needed, and 
  • Become a potential funding agent, and
  • Monitor and evaluate project and program success.

The Workplace Essential Skills Training Program is intended to assist eligible employers who do not have the capacity to act successfully on their own to address workplace essential skill issues.

Eligible employers for the Workplace Essential Skills Training Program include the following:

  • Profit and non-profit businesses (primarily small and medium sized employers of less than 100 employees).

Employers may have offices outside of Alberta. However, the project outcomes must benefit employers and employer organizations within Alberta.

Eligible Individuals

Workplace Essential Skills Training Program individuals must be:

  • Currently employed in Alberta;
  • Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada
  • In need and benefit from workplace essential skills training in order to maintain employment, fully contribute to the workforce, support safety on the worksite and create a highly productive workplace; and/or
  • Low skilled workers with less than high school or Adult Literacy and Life Skills (ALLS) levels 1 or 2,
  • Is suitable to attend training sessions.

Note
Temporary Foreign Workers and unemployed Albertans are not eligible to receive training under the Workplace Essential Skills Training Program.

Program Components

Workplace Essential Skills Training Program projects must:

  • Be initiated and managed by an employer, industry association, community organization, labour group or a training provider, and
  • Include a partnership between, at minimum one employer, a training provider and government, and
  • Address a demonstrated need that has been described by the employer, industry association, community organization, labour group and/or training provider for workplace essential skills training, and
  • Be custom designed for the needs of the employed Albertans, and
  • Include assessment of the essential skills needs of the employed Albertans, and
  • Provide training that addresses two or more of the nine essential skills required for full participation in the workforce.

The range of projects possible under the Workplace Essential Skills Training program is dependent upon the demonstrated need for the essential skills training and the training needs identified by the assessment of the essential skills of the employed Albertans. There is significant flexibility in program design. Applications may include more than one employer partner, within the same targeted industry.

Customized programming is meant to incorporate job, employer and/or industry-specific applications of essential skills. Once organization and employee essential skill development needs have been identified, project partners should jointly determine the appropriate training response. 

Ineligible Activities:

  • Upgrading and School-based training or apprenticeship training
  • Funding of existing training programs and/or duplication of existing programs
  • Life and Employability Skills beyond the nine essential skills
  • Self-directed Training

Priority will be given to projects aimed at improving the essential skills of workers from the following under-represented groups:

  • Immigrants with low essential skill levels
  • First Nations, Métis or Inuit persons
  • Workers with disabilities
  • Mature workers
  • Under-employed workers
  • Youth

All projects must include an assessment of the employer’s need for essential skills training and an assessment of the workplace essential skills of the working Albertans. The purpose of the assessment of the employer’s need for the essential skills training is to provide a rationale and business case for supporting the proposed workplace essential skills training project. The purpose of the assessment of the workplace essential skills of the working Albertans is to determine the employed Albertans’ need for workplace essential skills training. Proper assessment is key to employed Albertans receiving the most suitable supports to assist them to achieve their training and employment needs.

At least a portion of the training must take place during participants' normal work hours/shift.

Funding Parameters

Alberta Human Services’ funding contribution can only be used to support direct training (e.g. assessment, instructor fees, training materials, equipment rental, tutors, etc.), and project management/coordinator costs. Human Services’ funding contribution to Workplace Essential Skills Training Program projects cannot be used to support living allowance costs, client/employer wages, and curriculum development or used to purchase equipment or any other form of permanent asset (i.e. land or buildings).

To ensure the success of the Workplace Essential Skills Training Program, adequate project funding must be in place. Before project funding is committed by Human Services, a letter(s) indicating the specific level of anticipated support (financial and/or in-kind) by all partners must be provided to Human Services.

Human Services will provide a maximum of $5,000 per employed Albertan towards Workplace Essential Skills Training Program projects up to a 52 week timeframe.  A detailed operational budget including the estimated cost per planned employee hour of training in combination with the detailed project description will be considered to assess cost reasonability and cost effectiveness of the project.

Duration/Enrollment

The Workplace Essential Skills Training Program is a flexible training initiative (variable hours per week and variable number of weeks). It is anticipated that most projects will be completed within 52 weeks; however, some exceptions may apply. Workplace essential skills training projects must be project-based and finite with a defined start and end date. In certain circumstances the Regional Director may approve a workplace essentials skills training project that exceeds 52 weeks if it is deemed necessary for the success of the project.

PROCEDURE

Delivery Method

The Workplace Essential Skills Training Program is delivered through contract (i.e. third-party contract) or conditional grant-based delivery. The contract or conditional grant is signed with the employer, training provider or other partner acting on the employer’s behalf based upon an application completed by the Workplace Essential Skills Training Program partnership.

The project process has six steps:

  • Development of a Workplace Essential Skills Training Project partnership, prior to submission of application, and
  • Development of a Workplace Essential Skills Training project application by the partnership (identifies the project purpose, design and how it will be delivered including referencing or including a summary of the assessments)
  • Human Services Evaluation of application, negotiation and decision made and
  • Contract or grant signed with employer, training provider or other partner acting on the employer’s behalf; and
  • Monitoring and Delivery of Project
  • Evaluation of training outcomes completed by training provider and employer to be submitted to Human Services.

Application for Funding

To apply for funding under the Workplace Essential Skills Training program, an employer or other partner acting on behalf of the employer should contact a Human Services Regional Office for information on the application process.

Decisions regarding funding for the Workplace Essential Skills Training program reside within each Delivery Services Region and funding is approved as per Human Services contracting procedure.

Program Access/Entrance

Employers access the Workplace Essential Skills Training Program through establishment of a partnership with a Training Provider and submission of an application to Human Services Regional Offices. Employed Albertans are referred by their employer to access the Workplace Essential Skills Training Program.

Program Exit

The Workplace Essential Skills Training project concludes upon completion of all the requirements of the training project. Projects are finite in nature and have a clear start and end date. If the employed Albertan is having difficulty completing the project, the designated project coordinator will assess the situation and change will be recommended for successful completion of the training program.

Employed Albertan(s) who withdraw from the training early may require further assessment and will be referred back to their employer or training provider for follow up.

The Appeal Process

In the event that an interested party has a complaint with the funding process, they may request a meeting with local management to discuss program eligibility criteria.

Performance Measures/Standards

The expected outcomes for the Workplace Essential Skills Training Program are:

  • Increase the workplace essential skills of workers
  • Workplaces develop a learning culture.
  • Increase the number of worksites targeting or incorporating Workplace Essential Skills into their training activities. 
  • Increase worker productivity, literacy, retention, safety, integration of under-represented groups, return on training investments and/or other successful outcomes as a result of Workplace Essential Skills training.

Human Services will measure the success of all projects based on both qualitative and quantitative results. Short-term and long-term measures will be identified and discussed with project partners prior to project commencement. 

Monitoring the Program

Human Services (Delivery and Program Policy) are jointly responsible for monitoring the Workplace Essential Skills Training Program to ensure local practices are consistent with Human Services legislation and policies.

Human Services will monitor the Workplace Essential Skills Training projects to:

  • Review provincial program results to determine if Human Services business plan objectives are met,
  • Review any issues or concerns in provincial program policies,  
  • Make adjustments to the program as required in support of continuous improvement.

Program Evaluation

Provincial program level evaluation will be carried by Employment and Financial Supports Program Policy (EFSPP). Local project evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Human Services standard procedures for grants and/or contracts.