The Workforce Participation Program (WPP) is an innovative new program that helps individuals develop essential skills to excel in the workforce. WPP is an initiative that accommodates the requests and concerns of employers, employment counselors and clients to ensure that program participants have the confidence and skills they need to access occupations in Canada. In addition, after completing the program, WPP provides one-on-one employment support, provided by Action for Health Communities (AHC), to ensure that participants have the tools they need to find meaningful employment. This program was supported and funded by Communities United and coordinated by AHC.
WPP prototyping began in August 2018 and ended in December 2019. It was tested a total of 6 times with a variety of language levels and varying hours of instruction to develop the most beneficial program for participants. The WPP curriculum is created by AWES (Alberta Workforce Essential Skills) and supplemented by Easy Reading material from Alis. To effectively benefit participants, the program is learner specific, whereby the instructor has an opportunity to flex the program to accommodate the experiences, interests and concerns of participants.
One highlight of the program was when graduates of previous workshops returned to support the program as volunteers. This helped to generate a stronger feeling of community, collaboration and shared learning. Program participants were also able to access safety certificates, like WHMIS, CSTS and First Aid, via a partnership with CLAC (Christian Labour Association of Canada).
While the initial idea for the WPP program was to support recently arrived Syrian refugees with limited English language skills, the program now has participants from all over the world. WPP was created with the needs of both employers and job seekers in mind, and is committed to using authentic workplace documents and scenarios. The result is a program that builds the confidence of language learners and helps them develop practical workforce essential skills valued by employers.
The value of the WPP is strongly apparent and AHC has received funding from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to continue developing WPP from 2020-2025. The future for WPP will include building new programs that will include similar curriculums customized for different employers/industries, and fill a programming gap in workforce training for individuals with limited English language skills.