Man and woman sitting at a laptop

Improving employability skills in class and online

The Adult Learning Association of Cape Breton County (ALACBC) is a non-profit charitable organization that has been providing tuition-free literacy programs and GED prep for adults across Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, since 1989.

Corrina Petersen is the Literacy Instructor for Sydney Mines, a small town located just outside of North Sydney. Petersen is one of many literacy practitioners across the country using ABC Life Literacy Canada’s UP Skills for Work program.

UP Skills for Work helps learners develop key employability and life skills through free workshops and downloadable workbooks. The 16 topics align with the Skills for Success model and include soft skills such as motivation, adaptability, and time management. The program is designed for flexible delivery in community learning centres, workplaces, and homes.

Petersen discovered UP Skills for Work a few years ago when she was working for the County delivering a weekly employment class. She decided to integrate the workbooks into her programming at ALACBC because she felt the curriculum fit well within the skills framework for the province.

“It’s such a good fit as we have people with lower literacy levels who want to improve their employment skills, but it can be difficult to find content that is relevant to adults while still being written at a lower reading level,” she says.

Petersen’s literacy program runs for nearly the full duration of the school year (October to May) and most learners attend four mornings per week. Some of her learners have secured part-time or volunteer work since starting the program.

“The learners really like the workbooks because they’re a good length, the content is relevant in that it applies to employment, and they generate good discussion. Oftentimes when preparing a resume, learners will only think about skills that are employment related. But then we talk about soft skills that are used at home and in the community, and they realize they’ve been using these skills their whole life. It improves their confidence when they realize they are better in certain areas than they thought they were.”

Petersen is also leveraging the ABC Skills Hub for those learners who are more computer savvy. The ABC Skills Hub is an online learning portal that offers at-home delivery of ABC Life Literacy Canada’s many adult literacy programs, including UP Skills for Work.

Petersen says the ABC Skills Hub was especially helpful during the pandemic lockdowns as it allowed learners to continue their work online and independently. She continues to recommend it to those who are unable to attend a class so that they can catch up and stay up-to-date on their work.

Petersen particularly likes the teacher portal feature of the ABC Skills Hub as it saves her time.

“The teacher portal is very simple to use. I can pick a topic, make a class by inviting students, and even create a username and password for them in advance, which saves me time from having to stop and help them setting it up during class.”

Petersen says the learners also enjoy the ABC Skills Hub, which offers additional courses on financial, digital, health literacy and more.

“One lady who started working part-time has finished almost all of the courses on the ABC Skills Hub. She has branched out now that she’s more confident and has started taking courses on Smart shopping and Searching safely online. It’s a great platform for anyone looking to upgrade their skills.”

To learn more about UP Skills for Work or the ABC Skills Hub, check out our programs and initiatives.