Getting the job done

Launched in Manitoba, federal Skills for Success program trains educators to provide workers with necessary know-how for today’s business landscape

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Manitoba’s thumbprint will soon be on worksites across the country.

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Manitoba’s thumbprint will soon be on worksites across the country.

Workplace Education Manitoba is training practitioners from coast to coast to help Canadians upskill and meet current labour-market needs.

“The only thing that is constant in our world today is change, and so adaptability is so key for anyone to be able to navigate our workforce,” said Kara Finney, CEO of Workplace Education Manitoba.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Minister of Employment Carla Qualtrough announced $3.8 million in funding for Workplace Education Manitoba to facilitate the new Skills for Success program.

Adaptability is one of nine teachings offered through Skills for Success. Federal Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough visited Winnipeg Monday to announce more than $3.8 million for Workplace Education Manitoba to facilitate Skills for Success practitioner training.

Last April, Manitoba saw 27,965 job vacancies, according to Statistics Canada data. The province’s unemployment rate fell to 3.8 per cent — a near-record low — in June.

“We’re facing a labour shortage, and we cannot let our economy be held back by it,” Qualtrough said at a news conference. “We really need to maximize our workforce participation so that everyone who wants to work — who can work — has the chance to work.”

Workplace Education Manitoba has taught essential skills training in businesses and to individuals for more than 30 years.

Employment and Social Development Canada recently refreshed the nationwide training program to meet current labour needs; the result was Skills for Success.

Ottawa chose Workplace Education Manitoba to train Canadian educators (including human resources professionals and workplace trainers) on the new initiative.

There’s an emphasis on relational skills — adaptability, collaboration, problem solving and communication — and digital integration.

Businesses have “a whole long list” of skills they aren’t finding in potential employees, said Lori Duncan, an HR professional.

Critical thinking, decision-making and being able to deliver results are among the lacking traits that employers are searching for, Duncan said.

“COVID, I don’t think, helped with any of those skillsets,” she said.

Skills for Success practitioners will step in — to a workplace, to a First Nation, to a one-on-one meeting with a job-seeker — and assess the client’s needs before teaching socio-emotional skills, and/or writing, reading and numeracy.

“When you look at today’s workplaces and workforce, it is about that shifting and manoeuvring,” Finney said.

The government funding is set to cover 120 practitioners’ training. About seven to 10 will stay in Manitoba, Finney said.

Each teacher must complete a 12-day training session and practicum, where they lead three training events, before Workplace Education Manitoba awards certification.

The first round of educators — 27 Canadians — have finished training and are ready to begin practicums. The next pilot will launch early next year, with training sites in Saskatoon, Calgary, Toronto and Prince Edward Island, Finney said.

Practitioners may return to their employers or begin their own businesses.

Workplace Education Manitoba hopes to launch an online version of the training by mid-2023, Finney said. For now, it’s a hybrid mix. Funding for the program ends in October of 2025.

Finney would not say if the funding was enough for training but said “there will always be work to do.”

It’s often highly skilled workers who receive further training through their workplace, said Chris Roberts, the Canadian Labour Congress’s director of social and economic policy.

“The workers… who most need the opportunity to upskill or develop their capacity that will help them navigate a shifting job market are the ones who are most likely to be overlooked,” Roberts said. “(They’re the) least likely to have access to training opportunities.”

The Skills for Success program has a focus on underrepresented groups, the federal government touts. Workplace Education Manitoba’s clients include Indigenous communities, manufacturers and “any sector you can think of,” Finney said.

Workplace Education Manitoba will launch a social media campaign and post on its website to raise awareness, she said.

“We are just starting, so we will be yelling from the rooftops to come work with us.”

Pre-pandemic, the non-profit would assist more than 3,000 individuals and 70 to 100 workplaces annually, Finney said. Demand has returned to those levels and could surpass them this year, she said.

Ottawa estimates Skills for Success will contribute to 90,000 training opportunities. It set aside nearly $298 million over three years for the program in last year’s budget.

The program is free to users.

gabrielle.piche@winnipegfreepress.com

Gabrielle Piché

Gabrielle Piché
Reporter

Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.

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