Building System Integration


AWES and NorQuest College is combining expertise and networks,  to model a process by which silos can be broken down through partnership. The overall goal of the project is to improve services for immigrants by creating better connection among the diverse stakeholders who contribute to immigrants’ success toward integration, including employers, language instructors and curriculum developers, and settlement/employment counsellors. Lack of connection between stakeholders can be seen in language curriculum that doesn’t connect to the realities and needs of the workplace. We see it when employers are concerned that immigrants are not prepared for the realities of the Canadian workplace. And we see it when immigrants are not set up for success and are the first to be fired or laid off during down times.

The Building System Integration Project seeks to address this gap in the settlement and integration system in Alberta by creating resources that incorporate a number of frameworks together, breaking down the silos in which learning is typically presented to immigrants along the pathway from language class to employment.

Funder: Alberta Settlement, Integration & Language Projects

Project partner: NorQuest College

Newcomer Trades Project


The Newcomer Trades project is a multi-jurisdictional project being run in Alberta, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick. The program provides language, essential skills, workplace culture, safety and hands on skills training with an interim work placement in a contextualized environment. The end goal is for participants to be ready and able to assimilate into a regular apprenticeship pathway.

Funder: The Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES)

Project lead: New Brunswick Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour

Project partner: CLAC

Guided Pathways: Integrating essential skills


Employment agencies and counsellors are connecting unemployed persons to employment opportunities through training in resume writing, mentorship programs and job search workshops. Many programs include assessments, workplace integration, communication workshops, and life skills training. However, few offer services that relate to the application of Essential Skills. AWES is seeking to equip employment counsellors with a methodology that will allow them to systematize how they gauge skills and provide services. Therefore, the proposed project seeks to educate employment counsellors, among other employment service providers, about the essential skills resources (e.g., occupational profiles) that were developed by ESDC.  Employment counsellors are at a disadvantage without a full understanding of ES resources on how these relate to clients’ abilities to retain employment.

Ultimately, the overall objective of the project is to build, test, adapt, and systemize a robust training system in employment counsellor organizations in multiple jurisdictions that can be replicated across Canada to ensure employment counsellors can apply a firm understanding of ES to their work.

Learn more about the Guided Pathways Project. 

Find self-study tools and resources to use on your own or with clients in the Guided Pathways resource library.

Funder: The Government of Canada’s Adult Learning, Literacy and Essential Skills Program

Project partner:  Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC)

Digitizing Workplace Resources – Expanding success


In partnership with TIQ Software, AWES will digitize and consolidate several resources proven to be successful in previous projects. The resources chosen for this proposal were designed specifically to provide language, essential skills and workplace culture training to immigrants for better labour market attachment.

Find more information or purchase Skills for Work.

Funder: Alberta Labour, Immigrant Settlement and Language Programs

Project partner: TIQ Software

Working Faster, Working Safer


Although not ideal in terms of settlement pathways and language learning, many immigrants with low level English language and essential skills are working. These workers may not be able to understand safety and policy information provided by the employer. In this project, AWES is training language instructors to use authentic workplace documents and address critical workplace issues from a language, skills and workplace culture perspective at CLB 1-2.

Funder: Alberta Labour, Immigrant Settlement and Language Programs

Project partners: ASSIST, Bow Valley Learning Council Literacy Program, County of Lethbridge Community Learning Council, Immigration Services Calgary, Willow Creek Community Learning Council

Bridge to Better Onboarding


By offering language, essential skills and intercultural competence early in the workplace integration process we hope to reduce the workplace disadvantages immigrants encounter in early employment. By providing training during the orientation and onboarding process, AWES aims to help immigrants attach to the workforce earlier, while at the same time equipping employers with better training practices and tools.

Funder: Alberta Labour, Innovative Language Projects

Project partners: Alberta Food Processors Association, McCain’s, Lethbridge Public Library – Read On Program, Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC)

Skilling UP


AWES is endeavouring to find out if the benefits of workplace essential skills training and financial incentives to industry induce employers to invest more in training. This question forms the basis of this national project which involves research, development and training. Working with three national manufacturing companies, AWES is testing to see if making financial incentives conditional upon participants gaining skills improves the level of employer commitment.

Learn more about the Skilling UP Project and Program.

Funder: The Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES)

Project partners: SkillPlan B.C.; DataAngel Policy Research Incorporated; Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC); Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium (EMC), Canadian Manufacturers Network

Integrating the Essential Skills Tools into the Employment Counselling Process: Workshops and Materials


To ensure newcomers are well prepared to participate competently and safely in Alberta’s dynamic labour market AWES will offer training in the essential skills framework and tools to front-line employees who provide employment counselling services.  This training will build understanding of the relationship between essential skills levels and success in the workplace for their clients.

Funder: Alberta Labour, Immigrant Settlement and Language Programs Workforce Strategies, Newcomer Supports

Project partners: Talent Pool, Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council, Calgary Catholic Immigrant Society, Centre for Newcomers, Calgary Immigrant Employment Centre

Building Community Capacity


Community organizations are often the first point of entry for thousands of Alberta immigrants who may not have access to mainstream training programs. In this project, AWES provided training and resources to community organizations related to the language, essential skills and workplace culture needed to attain and retain employment in trades occupations.

Funder: Alberta Labour, Foreign Qualifications Recognition Unit

Project partner: Community Learning Network

Resources developed: Workforce Participation Workbooks 1 and 2 and Facilitator Guide, Workplace Resources for English Language Learners: An Annotated Guide

Bridge to Project Management


Skilled immigrants are often looking for opportunities to transfer their experience and training to the Canadian workplace. The materials developed for this project include fundamental language (vocabulary, concepts, and functions), intercultural competencies and workplace essential skills related to project management. This course is a bridge into conventional project management training classes

Funder: Alberta Jobs, Skills, Training & Labour, Innovative Language Programs

Project partners: CLAC, Executive Millworks, PCL Construction

Resources developed: Bridge to Project Management workbook and online learning materials

Youth Empowerment Program

2015 & 2016

Piikani Employment Services contracted AWES to design and develop a 12- week Workplace Essential Skills program for health care aide and construction occupations.

Funder: Fee for service

Project partner: Piikani Employment Services

Workplace Essential Skills Practitioner Training


Employees often go to Community Adult Learning Programs when they need to upgrade their employment skills. AWES delivered a  four day Workplace Essential Skills workshop that included  understanding the nine essential  skills framework and complexity levels, differentiating between tasks and skills using authentic materials, adapting materials for class or one-on-one environments, and, assessment.

Funder: Fee for service

Project partner: Manning Community Adult Learning Programs

Bridge to Frontline Leadership


Advancing to frontline leadership roles is challenging for newcomers to Canada. AWES developed and piloted a leadership training program using a blended-delivery format: online learning paired with face-to-face instruction and coaching. The content focuses on communication, thinking skills and workplace safety as they relate to leadership in the Canadian workplace.

Funders: Alberta Human Services, Community Partnerships Branch and Citizenship & Immigration Canada

Project partners: Calgary Board of Education, Sodexo, Executive Millwork, Pockar Masonry

Resources developed: Bridge to Leadership workbook and online learning materials

English for Workplace Safety


The English for Workplace Safety e-learning program integrated language training with workplace safety concepts and targeted non-native speakers with lower English language skills. The project also included creating an e-learning version of the Construction Safety Training System-09 Study Guide.

Funder: Alberta Human Services

Project partners: Alberta Construction Association and Alberta Construction Safety Association

Resource developed: English for Workplace Safety workbook

Building a Skilled Workforce with the Alberta Council of Disabilities Services (ACDS)


ACDS member organizations work with staff and clients who have diverse cultural and language backgrounds. For this project, AWES developed ACDS’ internal organizational capacity through Workplace Essential Skills (WES) training and resources, with a focus on effective intercultural communication.

Funder: Alberta Human Services

Project partner: Alberta Council of Disabilities Services (ACDS)

Resources developed: Intercultural Intelligence: Working with Cultural Diversity in the Community Disability Services Sector Handbook and Train the Trainer Manual 

Workplace Essential Skills Training in the Construction Sector


Medicine Hat Construction Association recognized essential skills gaps in their employees at the supervisory level. Working in partnership with Medicine Hat College, AWES developed a suite of training that included:

  • What are Essential Skills and How Do They Affect the Workplace
  • Giving Effective Safety Talks
  • Plain Language and How to Develop Workplace Documents
  • Working Together Effectively
  • Bridge to Leadership

Funder: Fee for service

Project partner: Medicine Hat College

Driving Investment


To raise the profile of essential skills in Alberta, an employer-awareness campaign combined with professional development for essential skills practitioners was created.  The project included ongoing research to identify the dynamics that promote learning in organizations.

Funder: Alberta Human Services



An organizational needs analysis uncovered the workplace essential skills needs of workers in housekeeping services at a Calgary hospital. The organizational needs analysis led to diversity training for frontline supervisors and a workplace essential skills training program focused on oral communication and document use for frontline staff. As a result of the training, staff improved their ability to read, understand and complete documents, which reduced time and related costs. Improved interpersonal relations between staff led to reduced conflict, better coaching and a more welcoming workplace. Enhanced communication skills led to fewer misunderstandings and more effective employee orientations and training.

Funder:  Alberta Human Services, Community and Business Services

Project partners: Sodexo and Alberta Human Services

Sustainable Solutions


An industry-led needs assessment of the ongoing challenges employers experience with attracting, retaining and developing workers in Alberta’s construction sector was facilitated by AWES. The project raised the awareness of workplace essential skills solutions in the construction sector and provided recommendations for piloting the new approach.

Funder: Alberta Construction Association

Project partners: The Alberta Construction Association and Alberta Enterprise and Advanced Education

Resource developed: Sustainable Solutions for the Construction Industry



AWES interviewed water and wastewater operators in rural Alberta’s municipal public works and utilities sector to understand the key workplace and productivity issues related to essential skills levels needed to perform tasks competently. AWES’ report confirmed the learning needs within the occupation and raised the awareness of essential skills solutions.

Funder: Alberta Water and Wastewater Operators Association

Project partners: Responsive Strategies Inc. and the Closer to Home Alberta initiative

Work Up!


AWES worked with Literacy Alberta as part of a larger project to write promotional material and best practices regarding working with employers to advocate for essential skills training.

Funder: The Office of Literacy and Essential Skills

Project partner: Literacy Alberta

Resources developed: Getting Through the Door: How to market Workplace Essential Skills training to employers  (part of the WorkUp! series)

Building on Investment


Pressing industry gaps in the construction sector were addressed by producing and piloting three training resources to support immigrants and their employers. This project concluded by putting high-quality resources into the hands of employers and employees.

Funder:  Alberta Employment and Immigration, Innovative Language Programs

Project partners: Alberta Construction Safety Association, Construction Sector Council, and Alberta Employment & Immigration.

Resources developed: Working with Newcomers: Tips for Culturally-Diverse Canadian Organizations Series, Giving Safety Talks: A Guide for the Construction Sector Series, Best Practices for the EWP trainer: English in the Workplace Report

Implementing Essential Skills Training


AWES identified essential skills gaps and delivered 200 hours of essential skills training without negatively disrupting business operations. As oral communication, document use, reading and numeracy skills increased, safe practices and standard operating procedures improved. As a result, misunderstandings decreased through clearer instructions and better questions, which had a positive impact on productivity and the quality of work.

Funder: Alberta Employment and Immigration, Workforce Supports Division

Project partner: Meridien Manufacturing Group

Pockar Masonry


AWES conducted an essential skills needs assessment and followed through with targeted, integrated training for native and non-native English speakers. Better productivity and workplace safety improved through training which included communication, document use, plain language and computer skills. As a result, employees felt valued, their competence increased, and communication flowed more effectively.

Funder: Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry, Community and Business Services

Project partners: Pockar Masonry and The Alberta Construction Association

All Weather Windows


This initiative enabled All Weather Windows to improve their safety communications. As a result, they were able to continue recruiting from less traditional labor sources during one of the tightest labour market periods in Alberta’s history.

Funder: Adult Learning, Literacy and Essential Skills Program (ALLESP), Business/Labour Partnerships and Workplace Literacy

Project partners: All Weather Windows, the Adult Learning Literacy and Essential Skills Program

Forging Links


AWES designed and delivered a Process Model for Integrating Workplace Essential Skills into Curricula, which various colleges, learning centers, and pre-employment programs across Canada have since used to assist in curriculum development. AWES delivered workshops for coordinators, instructors and tutors in rural Alberta communities to familiarize them with essential skills and related resources. AWES also worked in partnership with an Alberta-based college to integrate essential skills into the literacy program. As a result, the gulf between the classroom and workplace was narrowed, better preparing learners for career opportunities.

Funder: National Literacy Secretariat

Project partner: Government of Alberta

Resource developed: Integrating Workplace Essential Skills into Curricula: A process model

Environmental Scan: Workplace Language, Literacy and Essential Skills Programs in Alberta


In 2007, Alberta was in the midst of an unprecedented economic boom. With companies drawing from non-traditional labour pools, AWES conducted an environmental scan on program offerings to support these workers in language, literacy and essential skills.

AWES surveyed 32 service providers, 21 associations and 30 employers. The AWES team recommended addressing workers’ skills needs in several ways, including the development of additional resources. In response, AWES created many quality resources from safety posters and training manuals to cultural tips sheets and workplace integration tools for newcomers to Canada.

Funder: Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry

Project partner: Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry

 Surveying the Construction Sector


AWES conducted an essential skills needs assessment across the Alberta construction industry. The findings revealed that reading, record keeping, report writing, numeracy, continuous learning and adapting to a changing work environment are vital skills for workers in the construction industry. As a result, AWES established an ongoing sector partnership that has led to further research, development and training initiatives such as our 2013 Sustainable Solutions project with the Alberta Construction Association.

Funder: Construction Owners and Operators of Alberta

Project partner: Construction Owners Association of Alberta

Needs Assessment for Alberta Food Producers Association


AWES conducted an essential skills needs assessment across the food processing industry to evaluate how future trends will affect skill requirements. The objective was to identify essential skills needs and make recommendations for workforce development. We acted in partnership with the National Literacy Secretariat, Alberta Learning, and the Alberta Food Processors Association.

The research team interviewed representatives from 83 companies in 22 Alberta communities. AWES put forward a set of recommendations, including industry-specific workshops for supervisors, numeracy courses and language training to continually adapt to workplace change. As a result, the AWES solutions were translated into broader sustainable initiatives such as the internal “Molson Learning Centre” that focused on essential skills courses, general education and skills development.

Funder: National Literacy Secretariat

Project partners: Alberta Learning, The Alberta Food Processors Association