» Income and Employment Supports Policy Manual

Skip To Navigation

Skip To Content

Employment & Training Programs and Services

Published Date: September 01, 2011
Bookmark this page

Work Foundations

Academic Upgrading (Grades 10-12)


Income and Employment Supports Act
Income Support, Training and Health Benefits Regulation 
Training Provider Regulation, Section 2


Academic Upgrading is a program element in the Work Foundations program. It is designed to give unemployed or marginally employed adult Albertans the opportunity to develop the necessary academic competencies at a Grade 10 to 12 educational level to:

  • obtain employment and/or
  • pursue further employment-related training in apprenticeship, technical, business, college or university programs.


Eligible Individuals Specific to Academic Upgrading


  • must possess competencies higher than a Grade 9 level but lower than a Grade 12 level,
  • may require some employability and/or essential skills training,
  • may have experienced barriers to learning in previous schooling, and
  • may lack job experience or appropriate training, and
  • must require Academic Upgrading in order to obtain employment or as a pre-requisite for further employment related training.

An exception can be made for youth (16-19 years of age) attending a full-time education program under Alberta’s Education Act and receiving income support from the Government of Alberta.

For more information on individual eligibility, see Eligible Individuals – General.

Requirements of Individuals

Individuals participating in Academic Upgrading must:

  • attend training as scheduled and according to the Training Providers’ regulations and policies,
  • adhere to the acceptable attendance and acceptable progress requirements as identified in the Training Provider Regulation and Accountability policies,
  • complete the actions outlined in the individual’s Service Plan, and
  • provide information as requested.

Employment Insurance (EI) Reporting Instructions

Instructions outlining the required procedure for EI eligible learners/training participants to complete their EI reporting process can be accessed through the Tools section of the Manual. 

Methods of Delivery

Academic Upgrading programs may be delivered to Government of Alberta learners by classroom delivery, synchronous e-learning and distance delivery (other than e-learning).

Program Components

Academic Upgrading refers to all upgrading programs from Grade 10 to 12.

  • Academic Upgrading programs, including college preparation, are designed to meet the needs of adults requiring an academic education at the Grade 10 to 12 levels. Training may also include supervised, for-credit work experience.
  • General Educational Development (GED) programs at the Grade 10 to 12 level satisfy minimum academic requirements of a high school education and if approved by the Government of Alberta may be considered under Academic Upgrading.
  • University and College Entrance programs (UCEP) are intensive one-year programs that enable learners to achieve the necessary matriculation course equivalents for admission to Alberta post-secondary institutions under the non-matriculated applicant requirements.
  • Technical Entrance Preparation programs are intensive upgrading programs designed to provide entrance requirements for programs at one of Alberta’s technical institutes. Programs are designed from the point of view of practical application.
  • Distance delivery (other than e-learning), including correspondence and home schooling are acceptable for tuition-based and contract-based approved programs. Distance delivery is normally eligible only for Training Benefits and is acceptable for a fourth course in an academic term of any approved tuition-based or contract-based approved program, provided that the individual requires the course.

Work Experience

Individuals (both full-time and part-time) in Academic Upgrading may include one work experience course in their program if the intention is to move directly to employment upon completion of Academic Upgrading. The need for a work experience course must be clearly identified in an individual’s Service Plan.

Work experience:

  • may be included as a third course in the final term of an Academic Upgrading program if the individual is intending to move to employment and this is confirmed by supporting documentation,
  • may be taken as a fourth course at any time, whether the individual is moving to employment or post secondary training,
  • must not be used as a third course to enable individuals to be deemed a full-time student if they are planning to attend a post-secondary institution,
  • must be restricted to one course only as part of an Academic Upgrading program,
  • must not be used as a substitute for volunteer work, and
  • must include both classroom instruction and one or more supervised worksite placements.

Prior to any work experience placement, the supervising instructor, individual and employer must agree to a learning plan identifying the expected learner outcomes and work activities in which the individual will be participating.

An individual participating in a work experience course is considered to be attending school while at the workplace and must abide by the Training Provider’s policies in addition to Government of Alberta policies.

Employers must not receive any compensation from training providers for providing work experience opportunities for individuals.

Single Occupational/Post-Secondary Course:

A single Occupational training or Post-Secondary course may be considered in the last term as one of the 3 courses the student is enrolled in if all the following conditions apply:

  • the course is in the last semester of the learner’s upgrading
  • the learner has met the academic pre-requisites in their upgrading for the course or program
  • the course is a component of further training or employment as identified in the individual’s Service Plan
  • successful completion of the course accelerates or assists the learner to reach their training or employment goals sooner.
  • the overall costs to the Government of Alberta are reduced as the length of support to the learner will be less in the long term
  • to facilitate data entry the one occupational/post-secondary course will be coded as Academic Upgrading as the majority of the courses taken in the term will be in the academic upgrading stream.

Recognized Credential

All programs included in the Academic Upgrading program element must result in a recognized credential and be offered by a recognized public institution or a certified private provider.

A recognized credential is a credential that is recognized by both the issuing institution and by other receiving institutions. The Alberta Transfer Guide identifies transfer agreements for Academic Upgrading programs and courses among post-secondary institutions in Alberta.

Programs for Unique Individual Situations

  • In certain circumstances the Director may approve a Service Plan for an individual to participate in a training program that is not approved by the Government of Alberta or not eligible for income support. Regardless of the program for which they are receiving full-time income support, individuals must be closely service managed.
  • K-12 programs offered by private schools with religious affiliations are not eligible for Government of Alberta program approval. Learners attending such programs may be eligible for income support if approved by the Director and closely service managed.


Academic Upgrading may be provided on both a full-time and part-time basis. A full-time learner must be enrolled in not less than 18 hours per week per academic term.

Eligible individuals may receive up to 20 months in the Academic Upgrading Learning Stream. Youth (16-19) attending an education program under the Education Act can receive up to 30 funded months to achieve as many high school credits as possible in the regular school system (K-12). See Duration policy.  The specific course components must be documented in the appropriate Plan Item in Mobius.

In general, Academic Upgrading programs follow the traditional school year format.

Condensed Programs

To be eligible for a condensed full-time option the following eligibility criteria must be met:

  • the learner must be enrolled in not less than 18 hours per week and a minimum of two courses in eight weeks or not less than 18 hours per week and a minimum of one course in six weeks and,
  • the courses to be taken must clearly be prerequisites to meeting the learner’s employment goal and
  • courses must either:
    1. be part of the individual’s final term before going on to occupational, apprenticeship or post-secondary training, or
    2. shorten the period of training required by the individual by a term, or
    3. not be available at any other time.

Full-time funding while enrolled in less than three consecutive courses is available on a one-time basis for an individual.

Procurement Method

Academic Upgrading program is provided through either contract-based or tuition-based training.