A free program in Inuvik and Iqaluit that aims to help enhance the skills of adults who are looking to enter the workforce or take the next step in their education, is set to come to Yellowknife by the end of the year.
"This program is devoted to enhancing skills of those that are in the workforce and also helping people develop skills that will let them land that first job or let them take steps into a new direction," said Elizabeth Holloway, an instructor coordinator for the program in Inuvik.
The program, Workplace Literacy and Essential Skills, first launched in Iqaluit in 2019. It then expanded to Burns Lake, B.C., in early 2020 and then Inuvik in November later that year.
The program is offered through Frontier College, a national charitable literacy program. It has received federal funding until 2024 through the government of Canada's Office of Skills for Success.
Holloway said the Inuvik program has partnered with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, and has collaborated with other organizations to recruit students, like the Department of Education, Culture, and Employment, and the Gwich'in Tribal Council.
Program fills education gaps
"Our goal is to fill any gaps that are not served by existing educational support in the area and to work in concert with the other programs that are here," said Holloway. "We are aiming to reach as many learners as possible in the 18-plus population."
Holloway said part of the advantage of the program is its flexibility. She's able to try and fit the program to the learners schedule, and can even put it on at employers' work sites. She also can help put on training if employers are hoping to enhance a certain skill.
"A lot of the learners I have are interested in trades apprenticeship and may not have the course requirements to get into apprenticeship directly so I offer a very accessible option for studying for the trades entrance exam. Others are here for specific skills sets, digital skills sets, oral presentation skills. A whole kind of set of different options."
Holloway said the program has a sister program in Nunavut called Essential Skills for the Building Trades which has had about 100 learners go through it since 2016.
The program Holloway offers is more broad and she said one of her learners was someone who was going back to school and wanted to "shake off the rust and get working on math and reading."
Although accessing the internet can be a challenge, she hopes those in other communities in the Beaufort Delta region know that these tutoring services are also available to them.
Since the program has launched, Holloway has had about 10 learners reach out for tutoring and is always hoping for more.
"I've had students pass the trades entrance exam and tell me that this is going to have a huge impact on their life and it's a super rewarding thing to have supported them with," said Holloway.
Whether it's literacy, numeracy, digital skills development or just focusing on study skills, Holloway wants to be able to help adults reach their goals.
"I think being able to set aside a few hours a week to work towards a long term goal while maintaining a regular job is something people can appreciate."