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General overview

Stage of development: Implementation

Policy sector: Employment and training

Start date of service provision: Oct 2016

Capital raised (minimum): CAD 250k (USD 188.59k)

Service users: 91 individuals


The intervention seeks to recruit low-skilled, unemployed adult Canadians to raise their essential skill levels through the delivery of a training initiative based on Douglas College's proven Foundations Workplace Essential Skills Program. ESSF offers a blended-learning model comprised of group and individualized instruction designed to increase essential skills and engage participants. It is comprised of 144 instructional hours, typically delivered 6 hours per day, 4 days per week, for 6 weeks. Curriculum content supports learning in five main categories: document use, writing, digital technology, reading and numeracy. Each has a set of group activities, plus guidelines and resources for individual practice, at lower and higher levels of skill. As part of the curriculum, learners develop and produce their own portfolio of documents and resources to support them in their trajectory towards stable and satisfactory employment. The portfolio is more than a CV, containing materials for individual career exploration and job search, as well.

Target population

Unemployed or underemployed adult Canadians with lower literacy skills, defined as below Level 3 on the IALS scale.



  • Canada

Service delivery locations

  • British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Canada

Outcome metrics

  • Gain in skills after training. Number of participants who achieved 25-point skill gain in literacy, numeracy, and computer skills at the end of training.
  • Gain in skills 1 year after training. Number of participants who achieved 25-point skill gain in literacy, numeracy, and computer skills 12 months after training.
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