Category Archives: LBS Services

The Third Apprenticeship Connection Newsletter

Issue #3 of The Apprenticeship Connection newsletter has been published.

This newsletter includes great articles about the highest paying trades in Canada, information about apprenticeships and newcomers, information about Canadian Armed Forces veterans applying their skills in construction and information about Skilled Trades Ontario and their new website.  This newsletter also shared the LOCS blog post “Math and the Skilled Trades“.  Finally you will find information about Perfectio a magazine by the Coalition ontarienne de formation des adultes (COFA).  

Every issue of The Apprenticeship Connection ends with a great list of resource links.

If you would like access to past issues you can find them at:

Issue #1: The Apprenticeship Connection post.
Issue #2: The Second Apprenticeship Connection post.

You are welcome to share this newsletter with anyone who may be interested.  

If you would like more information about how adult training programs in Ontario supports the skilled trades, contact Carrie at or call (705) 313-4385.


 

Computer Skills for Post Secondary Prep

Core Skills

computer with book shelvesFor anyone entering a post-secondary program, including the skilled trades, it is important to have some core computer skills before starting. 

Gaining computer skills before entering a diploma, certificate or apprenticeship program, will mean all in-class time can be  focused on learning the content of the program.  Trying to learn computer skills at the same time as completing course work can be overwhelming.  It can become a barrier to success.  Adult training programs can help to remove this barrier.

The computer skills listed below can be used as a checklist.  Depending on the program, it may not be necessary to have all of these skills, but these are the most common.  Post-secondary programs often provide a list of the computer skills needed.  Adult training programs will customize training based on the goals of each individual. 

Contact one of the adult training programs to learn about eligibility and the options for gaining the computer skills needed for success in post-secondary programs. 

Checklist Below:

Hardware 

Hardware you will want to be familiar with:

  • Computer (desktop or laptop)
  • Keyboard and Mouse
  • Printer
  • Modem
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets

Operating Systems

Woman sitting next to a brick wall with a laptopThis is the software that runs your computer – we will focus on the Windows operating system because it is the most common.

  • Turn a computer on
    • This may require you to log on with a password
  • Move around Windows
    • Use the start button to access settings and apps
    • Use the taskbar
    • Open the Recycle Bin
    • Find programs
    • Find and use desktop icons – including shortcuts to programs
    • Run more than one program
    • Close programs
    • Log off
  • Work Safely
      • Download and use virus and malware programs
      • Maintain privacy
      • Understand risks online

File Management

  • Create, move, rename and delete folders and files
  • Understand file extensions e.g., .pdf (Portable Document Format), .xls (Excel file) and .docx (Word File)
  • Use USB flash drives
  • Use cloud storage – understand the cloud
  • Find documents on a computer
  • Upload a document
  • Scan a document
  • Save a document as a PDF

Software/Apps

Word Processing

  • Create and save documents using software such as Microsoft (MS) Word or Google Docs
  • Name and file documents
  • Enter content (typing)
  • Use basic formatting e.g., bold, underline, capitalization, changing font and font size, cut and paste content and adjusting spacing
  • Use spell check
  • Print files, including previewing and adjusting settings
  • Save and close files
  • Find and open files and make changes to the content and resave

Spreadsheets

  • Create and save spreadsheets using software such as Microsoft (MS) Excel or Google Sheets
  • Enter content into a worksheet
  • Enter basic formulas
  • Format cells
  • Name worksheets
  • Print worksheets, including preview and adjusting settings
  • Save and close files
  • Find and open files and make changes and resave

Email

  • Create an email account
  • Use email software e.g., gmail or Outlook to send and receive mail
  • Forward mail e.g., to your phone
  • Type and send messages
  • Manage your mail e.g., respond, forward, save, file and delete email
  • Use calendars
  • Manage safety, e.g., identify email scams
  • Attach a document, file or picture

Internet

  • Access the Internet using an Internet Browser such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera and Edge
  • Search for a website using Google Search and/or Bing
  • Bookmark a site
  • Know how to assess content – is it Canadian, is it legitimate?
  • Open more than one tab
  • Copy and paste content
  • Understand URLs
  • Refresh a page
  • Manage safety and security
  • Access social media – e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

PowerPoint

Note: you will only need these skills if you are required to make presentations.

  • Create and edit slide presentations
  • Select a theme (the look of the presentation)
  • Adding content and images

Online Learning

  • Log into a Learning Management System such as D2L
  • Find and download files
  • Upload assignments
  • Communicate with instructors and other students
  • Participate in real time webinars and meetings – using programs such as Zoom
  • person holding tabletComplete online assignments
  • Upload assignments
  • Complete online quizzes
  • Post comments

Phones and Tablets

  • Send a text
  • Download and install apps
  • Access email
  • Search the Internet

On the Job

To learn more about the computer skills needed for the trades, visit the post Computers and the Skilled Trades and Digital Skills in the Skilled Trades.

It is also important to note that in a 2022 survey of employers many said that employees and new hires require digital training.  The skills employers are looking for include:

51% said Software/Apps (e.g., Word, Excel, Calendars, Accounting, GPS, Google Docs/Forms).

40% said File Management, Sharing and Collaborating (e.g., Folders, Files, Attachments, Permissions, Dropbox).

30% said Hardware (e.g., Computer/Keyboard, Phone, Scanners, Point-of-Sale).

For the full list of digital literacy needs identified by employers visit page 14 of the 2022 EmployerOne Survey.


To Learn More

For more information about how you can gain these skills for work or ongoing education or training, contact one of the adult training programs in your area or contact Carrie at LOCS – or 705 313-4385.


 

Computers and the Skilled Trades

hands holding a tabletThere isn’t a job that hasn’t been touched in some way by digital technology, and this includes the skilled trades. The type and level of computer skills needed will vary depending on the trade, however, it is safe to say at the very least, basic computer skills are necessary.

The Ontario Government offers a way to search job profiles.  Enter a job you are interested in and open the profile.  These profiles are full of great information. 

If you select the heading “In Demand Skills and Knowledge” you will find a list of skills needed for success in the job.  It is common to find Computer Literacy listed in the ‘Foundational’ column for most jobs.  You will also find a basic list of the software commonly used on the job.  Below is an example of the skills section of the profile for Welders and Related Machine Operators

List of skills for welding

Skills needed by Welders and Related Machine Operators

Training Programs

Adult training programs prepare people for success at work and in any ongoing education or training programs they take.  This training includes computer training for people who are already registered as an apprentice or those thinking about starting an apprenticeship. 

Computers and Software

Adult training programs can help you develop the computer skills you need for success in a college program.  If you search for college level programs online, you will find computer and software skills are often listed. For example:

  • the Heavy Equipment Operator at Fleming lists Computer Skills as being important for students in this program.  They also list the technology required: “Students are required to have their own computer, Internet access, webcam and microphone.”  It is safe to assume that this hardware is needed to attend online classes.
  • the Welding program at Loyalist has Computer Applications as a first semester course.  The computer applications course includes “Outlook (email), PowerPoint, Word and Excel.” 

Online Learning

Online learning is becoming increasingly common in the trades.  For example, at least part of most college courses are offered online.  Adult training programs can help you prepare for success in taking computer-based training.  This may include:

  • using PDFs, videos and online documents
  • keyboarding, creating online accounts, logging in and moving around a course, uploading assignments, posting comments, asking questions and completing online tests and quizzes.
  • using video conferencing software to attend class.  

Communication

At work and in class you will likely be required to use technology to communicate with others. Our programs can help you develop these online communication skills.  This includes:

  • using smartphones, tablets and computers to send emails and texts to instructors, other students, co-workers, supervisors, customers and suppliers.  

Research

At work and in class you will need to be able to use the Internet and Search Engines to research information and resources.  In our programs you will have the opportunity to develop your online research skills.  This includes:

  • finding things such as how-to documentation, videos, manuals and information about products and services using websites, blogs, discussion forums and social media.

Apps

Our programs can also provide you with support as you develop your skills downloading and using applications (apps).  Apps are common in the trades.  Some apps are designed specifically for a trade or a company.  Other apps are general and can be used by people in any trade.  This may include using apps for:

  • mapping, for calculating, converting and measuring, for estimating, for logging/tracking hours, for ordering, managing projects, managing documents and taking notes, as well as for tool tracking and planning.

Speaking of apps: Visit our blog post about the Skills Ontario App that will help you learn about careers in the trades.

Virtual Reality

It is helpful to have experience using Virtual Reality since many trades are now using Virtual Reality Simulations, as well as Augmented Reality to provide training.  Many employment service organizations have a Virtual Reality option available to anyone interested in a career in the trades.  Virtual Reality is a great way to experience a trade before making a career decision.  To see some Virtual Reality Simulation options for the trades, visit CareerLabsVR.  To learn more about how you can book a Virtual Reality experience, contact an employment services office in your area.  

Computers in the Trades – Some Examples

In addition to software, online communication, research, apps and online learning, there are other computer skills needed in the trades.  We have provided a few examples below.  

The list below represent some of the in-demand careers in the trades in the LOCS area.  We have used labour market information from the Centre for Workforce Development and the Workforce Development Board. For a detailed list of in demand trades, visit our Labour Market Information post.

Beside each occupation there is a number.  You can click on this number to learn more about the career at the National Occupational Classification site. 

  • “The National Occupational Classification (NOC) is Canada’s national system for describing occupations.  You can search the NOC to find where an occupation is classified or to learn about its main duties, educational requirements”. 
  • The NOC is currently moving from a four to a five-digit code.  You may find the four-digit code still used in some places. 

Bakers (63202)
Calculators, Point-Of-Sale systems, spreadsheets (for planning and ordering).  There is also software to help with ingredient calculations and for managing costs.

Carpenters (72310)
Calculators, word processing, spreadsheets, billing and accounting software, estimating software and computer-controlled layout equipment (measuring tools).

Cooks (63200)
Calculators, spreadsheets, word processing, database, digitally controlled kitchen equipment, Enterprise Digital Assistant and restaurant management software.

Heavy Equipment Operators (73400)
Calculators, GPS, electronic scales, word processing, spreadsheets, database and laser grade control systems, displays and systems-monitoring controls.

Industrial Electricians (72201)
Spreadsheets, database, graphics software, project management software, handheld electrical equipment for electrical readings.  They also install and service ethernet and process control systems.

Plumbers (72300)
Calculators, word processing, database, spreadsheets, accounting software, CAD – Computer Aided Design, online plumbing software and project management software.

Transport Truck Drivers (73300)
Calculators, GPS, database, fleet tracking/management software and handheld electronic logbooks.

Heavy-Duty Equipment Mechanic (72401)
Calculators, database, diagnostic equipment and handheld devices.

Construction Trades Helpers and Labourers (75110)
Calculators, database, digital multimeters and topographical information.

Electronic Service Technicians (22311)
Calculators, word processing, spreadsheets, database, load and configure software, programs for simulation purposes, diagnostic tools – oscilloscopes, application specific measurement and diagnostic software and apps to run diagnostic tests.

Hairstylists and Barbers (63210)
Calculators, Point-of-Sale systems, digital cameras, database, salon management software, accounting software and industry apps.


If you would like more information about how you can develop the computer skills you will need for success in an apprenticeship, contact an adult training centre in your area or reach out to Carrie Wakeford or at (705) 313-4383.

Entering a Skilled Trade

man working on a carAdult Training and Skills Development organizations offer programs that help people prepare to “hit the ground running” when they register for an apprenticeship. 

We also offer programs to current apprentices who may need some support through their training.  We can even help people prepare to write the Certificate of Qualification (C of Q).

Free, personalized training that you can start right away, both online or in person – what could be easier?

Pre-Apprenticeship – Where to Start

Whether you want training or a refresher, we can design pre-apprenticeship training for you so you are ready to complete your apprenticeship successfully. 

We can help you identify the strengths you already have for the trade you want to work in. 

We can also help you identify any areas you may want to upgrade or refresh before starting out in a trade. 

Some trades even have a ‘trade specific’ assessment.  This will help you see what is needed for success in the trade you are thinking about entering.

Training Options

Computer Skills: You may be interested in gaining computer skills so you are ready to do the in-class part of your training.  You may be interested in learning to use tablets that many employers will ask you to use on the job.  You might be interested in learning about apps since many trades use apps now.  See our post Computers and the Skilled Trades.

Communication: You might be thinking about building on the communication skills you will need for success both in class and on the job. 

Math: Many trades rely on various levels of math.  If it has been a while since you have taken a math course, perhaps a refresher will help sharpen your skills so trades specific math will be less of a challenge.  See our post Math and the Skilled Trades.

Soft Skills: Employers tell us they want employees with skills like problem solving, time management, teamwork, organization and customer service.  We can help you sharpen these skills so you can add them to your resume.  This will help you catch the attention of an employer.

You will also gain strategies that will help you handle the challenging tasks you may face in class and on the job.

Whatever it is you need to prepare for success in the skilled trades, we can support you in gaining the base skills you will need.  

For Current Apprentices

Adult Training and Skills Development organizations also help people who are currently working in a trade or registered as an apprentice but need a bit of extra support in areas such as math, communication, computer skills or soft skills. 

As mentioned, we can also help you prepare to write your Certificate of Qualification (CofQ).

Who to Contact?

For more information you can contact any of the programs in your area.

City of Kawartha Lakes Programs
Haliburton Programs
Hastings Programs
Northumberland Programs
Peterborough Programs

You can also download a flyer:

KAWARTHA LAKES Flyer
HALIBURTON Flyer
HASTINGS Flyer
NORTHUMBERLAND Flyer
PETERBOROUGH Flyer

If you would like more information contact Carrie at or call (705) 313-4385.


 

The Apprenticeship Connection

The Apprenticeship Connection green logo

The Apprenticeship Connection newsletter has been released: https://mailchi.mp/954e57248d26/the-apprenticeship-connection-issue-1

You will find:

  • Apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship program information
  • Information about how LBS programs support apprenticeship success
  • Success stories, tips and statistics
  • Links to some great resources you can share

Literacy Ontario Central South (LOCS) is part of an Ontario-wide apprenticeship committee. We will be releasing regular newsletters highlighting apprenticeships and resources. 

To learn more or to sign up to receive our newsletters visit the Learning Networks of Ontario website.

Please feel free to share our newsletter.

Next steps: 

Math and the Skilled Trades

Measurement tools including a tape measureIn addition to the well-known trades of plumber, electrician and carpenter, the skilled trades also include hairdresser, baker, child and youth worker, educational assistant, roofer, heavy equipment operator, machinist and drywall finisher.

These are just a few of the 144 skilled trades in Ontario.

Although these trades are very different, they have one thing in common – they all need the people in the field to have some math skills.

To see a full list of the 144 skilled trades visit this Explore the Trades page.  You can also learn more about the trades at the Apprentice Search website.  

Math Skills Needed in the Trades

Below you will find a list of some of the math skills needed in the trades.

  • Complete measurements
    • Distance, pressure, tolerances, temperatures, volume, quantities, perimeters
  • Assess angles
  • Read gauges
  • Read blueprints
  • Mix chemicals
  • Set prices
  • Complete estimates and invoices
  • Manage stock
  • Take orders
  • Set budgets
  • Track statistics

For a detailed list of the math skills needed in the trades, visit the foundations section of this Trades – Math document.

Don’t worry if it has been a while since you were in a math class or you have realized you are not familiar with everything on this list.  Contact any of the free adult upgrading, and training programs for help.

Trades Assessment

3D drawing of a hoursOur adult training and upgrading programs offer assessments to help you pick the skills you need to focus on to get you where you want to go in the trades.

The federal government also has a free online self-assessment.  It is called ‘Essential Skills Self-Assessment for the Trades‘.

The math section of this self-assessment will give you another list of the math skills needed in the trades.

This assessment includes measurement (metric / imperial), dimensions (area or volume), estimates (time, distance, volume or quantity), ratios and proportions (using scale drawings) and geometry (calculate slopes or elevation).

If you complete this assessment and feel like you might need assistance, contact an adult training program in your area.  We can help with training or a math refresher.

Free Adult Training and Upgrading

Adult training and upgrading programs can help you develop the core math skills needed to work in any trade.

We make sure you have the base you need so you are ready to learn trade specific math once you are in an apprenticeship, training program or when you need to learn on-the-job.

Adult training and upgrading programs are for people who are:

  • thinking about working in a trade
  • working in a trade
  • registered as an apprentice 
  • preparing for the Certificate of Qualification (CofQ) exam

We can help you pinpoint the skills you need to develop for the trade you are interested in, which means your training will be customized, short and focused.

Workbooks

There are free workbooks available online.  Below you will find two available through the Canadian Government.  

A free trades-math workbook:

A free Essential Skills workbook for the trades:

If you are working through these workbooks and find you have questions or would like some support, we can help.  

Contact Us

triangle, circle, measurements on purple backgroundContact any of our programs to find out how we can help you move successfully into a skilled trade or do well in your current apprenticeship.

For a list of services in the Haliburton, City of Kawartha Lakes, Peterborough, Northumberland and Hastings visit our programs page.  Or contact Carrie Wakeford at or 705 313-4385.

To find a program in other areas of Ontario, visit the Learning Networks of Ontario website.


 

Digital Skills in the Skilled Trades

three smart phones and a computerTradespeople, employers and educators all agree that the most important emerging skill in the trades are digital skills. This was confirmed through research done by the Conference Board of Canada and Future Skills. For the details, see the report ‘Bridging Generational Divides: Advancing Digital Skills in Canada’s Apprenticeship and Skilled Trades Ecosystem’ (September 2020).

The demand for digital skills in the trades can be seen throughout Canada and around the world. The report identified that:

“Tradespeople will need seven core digital skills: technical, information management, digital communication, virtual collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving in digital environments.” (Bridging Generational Divides, Page 9)

Adult Training and Upgrading

Adult training and upgrading programs in Ontario, also known as Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS), have seen a growth in the demand for digital skills over the years. During the pandemic, we saw the need for digital literacy skills skyrocket as everything moved online. People needed digital skills to do everyday things such as apply for financial support, communicate with their doctor or get their kids online for school. For apprentices this meant having the skills to register online, complete training, and communicate with employers digitally.

Adult training and upgrading programs in Ontario responded to the increased need for digital literacy training by developing and offering additional online and in-person training programs, including Zoom training. We want to make sure people have the skills they need to succeed in meeting their career and educational goals, including individuals preparing to start an apprenticeship.

Pre- and Post-Apprenticeship Training Options

Electrician looking at a panelAdult training and upgrading programs support people who are thinking about entering the skilled trades, including those in pre-apprenticeship programs. Additionally, we offer help to those already registered as an apprentice but who need a bit of extra support with things such as digital literacy, math and communication skills. We are also known for being able to help people prepare for success with their Certificate of Qualification (C of Q) exams.

We can also support those currently in a trade, but who might be thinking about leaving because they don’t have the core skills they need for success at the moment. With a little help, they can succeed. In this way, LBS programs can help with retention in the trades which will go a long way in improving the completion rates.

Digital Technology in the Trades: Examples

The “Bridging Generational Divides” report identifies areas where digital technology is being used in the automotive, manufacturing and food service industries, but their findings can be applied to all trades. For example, the need for computers, tablets, smartphones, apps, and handheld devices is found in all the trades to some degree.

The paper captured many examples of the growing need for digital skills in the trades, including:

  • installing and operating machines and equipment
  • using diagnostic and monitoring tools
  • programming
  • reading digital blueprints
  • completing quality control
  • digital measurement
  • communicating and sharing information with customers, trainers and other trades people (e.g. email, text, Microsoft Teams and Zoom)
  • receiving online work orders, and product and service orders from customers
    placing orders for parts and supplies
  • invoicing.

laptop with diagram of buildingFinally, there is a need for information management skills, including accessing forums for troubleshooting support and for finding information, manuals and training online.

In the ‘Bridging Generational Divides’ report you will find Table 1 ‘Impact of digitalization on the trades‘ which includes a list of ‘Skills needed to adapt to future work trends’.

An EdCan Network article ‘Skilled Trades in the Digital Age‘ provides even more examples of digital skills and tools in the trades. It includes GPS-guided excavation on construction sites and in resource extraction, accessing information on tablets, such as schematic drawings, as well as scheduling and invoicing software. It provides an example were technology can be found in equipment including heavy haulers.

They “have a tremendous number of sensors that collect data about everything from how hard the equipment is hitting bumps, to how inflated the tires are and where the bumps are located so the road can actually be fixed.”

Generational Divide

The need for digital skills is an significant development in the trades. It is made even more significant because it is being embraced at different rates. The “Bridging Generational Divides” study found that apprentices may be more open to using digital technology than a journeyperson.

For example, one of the challenges going forward will be the apprentices’ preference for text and email and a journeypersons’ preference for in person and phone discussions.

Training

Cell phone apps with hand toolsThere is a need for strong foundational skills in digital literacy for those considering a career in the skilled trades; however, there is also a need to support those already in the trades. For example, LBS can help to provide training to address the intergenerational communication differences identified in the report, such as email and text communication.

In our programs, we begin by measuring the individuals’ current skills so we can work with them to design a customized training program that will help them build on their current computer, communication and math skills. Some people come in for a refresher while others are looking to develop new skills. We create an individual plan that fits their needs and schedule including offering one-on-one, group or online training.

What was also clear in the report was the clear link between soft skills and digital skills. This includes communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving. LBS programs have been recognized over the years for providing the opportunity to develop these soft skills which further prepares people for work in the trades.

Adult training and upgrading programs provide the base skills so that people in the trades have the foundation and confidence needed to learn the digital tools and software specific to their industry.

Recommendations

The ‘Bridging Generational Divides’ report concludes with a list of next steps for addressing labour and digital skills shortages. They include recommendations for employers, tradespeople, training providers, unions, and governments. To see the list of recommendations, visit page 27 of the report.

Contact Us

We recommend reaching out to any of our adult training programs located throughout Ontario to ask how we can help support the development of foundational digital literacy skills needed in all jobs, including the skilled trades.

For a list of services in the LOCS region, including Haliburton, City of Kawartha Lakes, Peterborough, Northumberland and Hastings, visit our programs page or contact Carrie Wakeford at

To find a program in other areas of Ontario visit the Learning Networks of Ontario website for help finding a program in your region.

You can learn more about digital skills and the skilled trades in the blog post Computers and the Skilled Trades


 

Training Programs – Ontario

Regional Networks

Literacy Ontario Central South (LOCS) is one of the 16 regional literacy networks in Ontario.  Together we make up the Learning Networks of Ontario.  Our networks work together to support adult training and literacy programs in the province and in our individual regions. 

We lead local planning within our communities, working closely with our partners, including employment services and other support organizations.

Finding A Program

Literacy Ontario Central South

LOCS represents the counties of City of Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton, Hastings, Northumberland and Peterborough.  If you are looking for training programs in these areas, visit our programs page. There you will find a link to all of the training organizations in each county.  Contact Carrie Wakeford directly if you would like assistance finding information: .

Eastern Region

LOCS works closely with our peers in the Eastern Region.  The Eastern Region includes both the Ottawa and Kingston areas.  You can find links to the Eastern Region at The Learning Networks of Ontario website.

Muskoka 

The LOCS area borders on the Muskoka area as well.  The Muskoka and LOCS region are both part of the Fleming College Service System Manager transformation area.  To find programs in the Muskoka area visit The Learning Networks of Ontario website.  The Simcoe/Muskoka Literacy Network is part of the Central Region.

Ontario

If you are in another community anywhere in Ontario, you can contact one of the 16 networks for help finding training options in your area.  All of the networks in the North, South, East and Western Ontario regions can be found at the same website The Learning Networks of Ontario.

For more information you can call or email is at LOCS.  We are available by phone at (705) 313-4385 or you can contact Carrie Wakeford at


Free Work and Academic Upgrading through Fleming College

Fleming College expands the work and education choices for Haliburton County residents

Fleming Skills On Demand multicoloured logoA young carpenter improving her math to get ahead in her career. A dad finishing what he started decades ago. A mom juggling a family, part-time work and financial struggles. A new Canadian upgrading her skills to meet course requirements for a practical nursing program.

These are just some of the people in Haliburton County who have turned to Skills on Demand: Work & Academic Upgrading—a flexible work and academic upgrading program of Fleming College, designed to help adult learners reach their educational and career goals.

The free program appeals to adults with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.

Learners can choose courses in a variety of subjects including math, computers, communication and sciences.

Women in office orange shirt and scarf

Marion Willemsen

Learners register for Fleming’s Skills on Demand program for a variety of reasons, explains Marion Willemsen, professor and program coordinator. Some are looking to finish high school or get the courses they need to get into college. Some work towards their Academic and Career Entrance (ACE) certificate—a Grade 12 equivalent that opens the door to college programs and apprenticeships.  Others want to learn new skills to advance in their careers or fulfill a commitment they made to themselves. While their reasons vary, nearly all the people in the program face the challenge of adding school to an already-long list of work and family responsibilities.

“Learning becomes easier without challenges or barriers,” says Willemsen, which is why Fleming offers flexible options in an environment that is welcoming and inspiring.

Skills on Demand is delivered in small groups or through one-on-one support. Training can be taken full-time or part-time, in the day or evening – anything to accommodate work and family responsibilities. Program flexibility allows learners to start any time and provides access to multiple learning options: learning from home or work, in the classroom or online – in any combination.

Before learners attend classes, they complete an essential skills assessment, so they know where they need to start – there is no need to complete courses in things you already know. Program staff work with learners to determine their existing skills, learning style and needs.

“Sometimes learners don’t know what their goal is until they’ve done the assessment and looked at the options,” says Willemsen.

“We accept learners at any level and create an individual learning plan with each person. This plan helps them reach their goals. We always encourage each of them to set a goal so they are creating a timeline for themselves that is achievable.”

Opportunity is a two-way street and learners are in control of their own direction, Willemsen explains. And for many learners in the work and academic program, that more than rings true. As a professor, she has witnessed student success. “People have grit, work hard with determination and a real commitment to their goals.”

Like a mom who had to take a different route to complete her training during the COVID lockdown. She was working online but her kids were using the ‘bandwidth’ in the house because she was homeschooling them.

Students aren’t the only ones enriched by the program. Instructors like Willemsen, also feel a deep connection to the people they help through the program.

“There’s nothing better than helping somebody who wants to better their life and career goals by upgrading their skills. A lot of people are unsure when they start, but that’s what we’re here for. The best way to begin is just to get your foot in the door” says Willemsen.

Fleming Skills on Demand also works with other services such as Fleming CREW Employment Centre and the John Howard Society. Together, the partners offer community-based programming that helps people build skills and connect to the local workforce or go further with their education.

One new program we are offering together is a five-day bootcamp called STRIVE. This program focuses on supporting people as they prepare for work. The program was designed after local employers expressed concerns about some missing skills in the Haliburton community.

STRIVE is also a great program for employers who are thinking about offering on-the-job training.  “We can help employers with retention which is important when employers are struggling to find employees,” says Willemsen.

“We can also help employers and their staff. We have employers who send their workers to us to gain skills. In one case, there was a young carpenter who was not offered a promotion because she needed stronger math skills so she could do measurements that required her to add, subtract and multiply fractions. Her employer sent her to take the program one day a week and she successfully finished it.”

“We also provide training for people who need to learn to use Zoom or other computer skills. With COVID we have learned that not everyone has the computer skills they need to access programs, services, training, or work. We can help make that happen.

In some cases, people want to take training but they don’t have access to technology or the Internet. We can help with that too! We make sure people have what they need to access the training they want.

We want people to have fair access to computer skills and technology because it is so important – especially now. This past year we have been jumping through all sorts of hoops to try to reach people so they can continue with their program.”

Reflecting on Willemsen’s years of educating people, she highlights the importance of developing a mutual respect with learners and encouraging them on their journey.

“As instructors, we’ll do whatever we can to help our learners succeed, whether it’s one-on-one support, loaning them a laptop and even helping them with their Internet connection,” said Willemsen.

Fleming Skills On Demand multicoloured logoIf you are in Haliburton, Ontario and would like to learn more about how Fleming Skills on Demand–Work and Academic Upgrading can help you, you can contact Jennifer Gill at or call at 705-761-2382.  

To learn more about this Fleming program, visit https://flemingcollege.ca/academic-upgrading.