Ready-to-Work Successes in Saskatchewan

Ready-to-Work hrtimes feb09 The Ready-to-Work (RTW) program has provided job readiness training and career planning to over 10,000 unemployed or underemployed young people since its debut in 1994. An internship program of the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council (CTHRC), RTW is delivered by the CTHRC’s provincial and territorial partners across Canada. The program assists participants in developing essential and transferrable job skills, and transitions them into the tourism workforce. Funded by Human Resource and Skills Development Canada and provincial/territorial governments, RTW has been broadened in recent years to reflect the changing demographics of the labour market; its focus now includes such under-represented groups as mature workers, Aboriginal peoples, new immigrants, social assistance recipients, and disabled persons.

The program has been a great success in Saskatchewan, where it is coordinated by the Saskatchewan Tourism Education Council (STEC). The 32-week program delivers job-specific training for over a dozen occupations, as well as training for transferrable skills including job search techniques, basic computer knowledge, communication, conflict resolution, stress management, budgeting, and workplace etiquette. If a community or an employer expresses interest in participating, an RTW representative will assess their needs and tailor the program to best fit them.

Training is based on the emerit Tourism Essentials program and may also include first aid, responsible alcohol service, customer service, or other courses. The first eight weeks are classroom-based, with the remaining four weeks spent on occupation-specific, hands-on learning. Once the training is complete, RTW does not directly place participants in jobs, but does assist them in finding one—for example, they may invite a company to come to the training site and set up interviews. They also provide forty hours of mentoring and skills upgrading over the first six months of employment.

This past November, Tamara Miller of the CTHRC and Lynne Kennedy of STEC visited with RTW classes in Lloydminster, Stony Rapids, and Stanley Mission. The visits were a great opportunity to see first-hand the various skills being developed by the RTW participants and to appreciate the many opportunities that can come out of the program.

Participants in these three communities were focused on food and beverage training—one group on culinary skills and the other on serving skills. As part of the program, each of the three puts on a free community lunch to practise what they had learned. Donations are welcome, and these lunches have become a popular local event. The Lloydminster group even takes reservations because there is so much interest. Participants take care of all the details, from cooking and presentation to hosting and serving tables.

“The Lloydminster and Stanley Mission participants were both holding lunches on the days we visited,” explained Tamara. “The food was delicious and the service was excellent. It’s a great opportunity for everyone to show what they’ve learned in a real-life situation.”

STEC is now working on RTW-2, which will assist former participants with furthering their careers by offering supervisory training and demonstrating possible career paths for various occupations. This will not only create new opportunities for those who have successfully completed the program, but will also open up entry-level positions for newcomers. For more information on the RTW program, please visit the CTHRC website.