by Stacy Dunn
Workplace Learning PEI (WLPEI) is celebrating 25 years of assisting employers with their training and other learning needs, such as helping workers upgrade skills. They also work with job seekers to help them get the training, skills, and education they need to obtain sustainable employment.
WLPEI works with a diverse number of employers, including municipal governments, seasonal businesses, and the manufacturing, food processing, and aerospace industries. Participants are most often between 24 and 39.
In 1997, a worldwide adult learning survey found that about 50 percent of adults had lower than the average literacy skills needed to fully participate in the labour force. The National Literacy Secretariat partnered with the provinces and territories to fund organizations that could do the groundwork to provide opportunities for adults to improve their literacy skills.
“The province of PEI formed Workplace Education PEI in order to access funding available from the secretariat to work with workplaces,” says Lori Johnston, Executive Director of Workplace Learning PEI.
“A large number of people couldn’t afford to go to school and work at the same time, so they needed an opportunity to upgrade their skills at work. Workplace Education was formed to meet that need.”
Workplace Education PEI adopted the model from Workplace Education Manitoba. “We collaborated with them and with Workplace Education Nova Scotia to build our capacity to deliver programs. The first employer to participate with us was the manufacturing company Dura-Belt Inc. and seven of its employees. They won a national literacy award after their time with us.”
Essential skills training
In 2007, Workplace Education PEI incorporated and changed its name to Workplace Learning PEI Inc. “The staff did a lot of legwork in 10 years to sign up more employers. Feedback from the Department of Education let them know that they were helping to meet the need around adult literacy and essential skills. We partnered with PEI Literacy Alliance and Laubach Literacy to develop tutoring programs and tutor-training programs.”
Later, WLPEI employees were seconded to work on the provincial government’s Trade Essentials project with classrooms in Souris, Slemon Park and Charlottetown.
About the staff
Lori became Executive Director in 2010. At the beginning there were four staff, and since then the number has grown to eight full-time staff. They also bring on four people on contract from October to May.
Lori has a degree in Physical Education. “I have worked in various sectors such as banking, hospitality, and retail, mostly at management levels within the private sector,” she says. “With my experience in education and business, I understand the dynamics of workplaces.
“We have highly qualified staff at WLPEI with backgrounds in adult education, career counselling, and project management. They have a wealth of experience in essential skills, curriculum design, skills assessments, and job competency profiles.”
Programs and services
WLPEI sees over 200 people a year through its various programs and services.
They recently received funding from Employment and Social Development Canada for its new initiative, the ADAPT program. It is a partnership between Workplace Learning PEI and the Government of New Brunswick’s Virtual Learning Strategy (VLS) adult-learner support model.
ADAPT provides Island employers and workers with FREE access to a suite of VLS virtual services to screen for, diagnose, and support people with learning disabilities in the workplace.
Other programs offered
Workforce Employability Readiness Certificate (WERC) – Job seekers are matched with employers and get hands-on training to develop skills. Coaching and mentoring training is also provided to supervisors, which helps retain new employees.
Workplace Essential Skills (WES) – Training aimed at helping adults who are underemployed or seeking employment and require additional essential skills to succeed.
Essential Skills Assessment (ESA) – Jobseekers and workers who are referred by a partner agency do a two-hour interview and assessment of essential skills relevant to their goals, such as math skills, reading skills, or digital tech skills.
“Some years we see as many as 300 people. For instance, our WES programs take a total of 26 participants each year in three locations – Charlottetown, Lennox Island, and Summerside,” Lori says.
“We do one-on-one assessments for 100 to 130 people a year,” says Lori. “The referrals for those assessments come from many community partners, such as the Construction Association of PEI, ResourceAbilities, Mi’Kmaq Confederacy of PEI, the Adventure Group, and private businesses.”
“We build partnerships with employers, service providers, non-profit organizations, government, and whoever else we can, because we know nobody can do it alone,” Lori says. “We also want to build capacity.
“Our biggest goal is to help people learn how to learn. We want to ensure that once they complete their training, they are more independent, and they know how to take the next steps in learning and make strategic plans.”
The services offered can be of great benefit to employers. WLPEI staff will visit businesses to conduct training needs assessments and help put good training practices in place which will improve onboarding and standard operational procedures. They then work closely with managers and supervisors so that they will be able to manage the procedures themselves once WLPEI staff leaves the workplace.
A customized, flexible approach is used with individuals and employers. “We use adult learning principles so that adults don’t need to learn what they already know; they learn what they need to know.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
on Workplace Learning PEI, visit www.workplacelearningpei.com
Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter