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Phase 1 Provincial Summary
Saskatchewan Training Strategy (STS): Bridges to Employment is a program of the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Skills Training. It is implemented in cooperation with a variety of partners, including regional colleges, the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology, New Careers Corporation (NCC), employers and community-based organizations, including aboriginal communities. STS began in April 1997 and will be implemented over three years.
The program is designed to strengthen the linkages between skills training programs, jobs and the labour market for all Saskatchewan people, including social assistance recipients, and to develop a skilled workforce relevant to Saskatchewan's labour market.
Career services help social assistance recipients to gain access to employability-related education and experience and to formulate an action plan. Recipients who have multiple barriers to employment are referred to work preparation centres. Others pursue training or education and remain on social assistance while attending their course. Some recipients undertake work experience or on-the-job training and receive a wage.
Provincial social assistance recipients are eligible for all programs funded through STS. There are some program-specific criteria. For example, recipients wanting to upgrade their academic skills have to be 18 years of age and may be required to complete some academic testing such as the Canadian Test of Basic Skills. The employment programs offered through NCC are available only to social assistance recipients.
The Saskatchewan Assistance Plan requires all employable recipients to develop a plan for independence. Benefits may be withheld from recipients who refuse to pursue opportunities for self-sufficiency. Appeals processes are determined within individual programs and delivery agents. Processes have been established in the public training institutions for students, within the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Skills Training for the provincial training and youth allowances, and within the Department of Social Services for social assistance benefits.
There is local autonomy and flexibility in the design and implementation of the program. STS promotes equity, fairness and diversity throughout the training and employment system. It is developing a system-wide approach to equity that will work toward representative participation of equity groups; identify and remove physical, cultural and gender barriers to successful participation; and require inclusive approaches such that programs fit the needs of participants from different groups. Programs funded through STS do not displace workers, as they encourage new job growth or retrain existing employees.
NCC receives $11,884,000 to provide career and employment programs and services for social assistance recipients. Other STS program allocations include the following: JobStart/Future Skills, $10,401,260; basic education and literacy, $13,168,000; provincial training allowance, $18,629,000; provincial youth allowance, $1,400,000. In 199798, employment programs offered through NCC provided 1,500 opportunities for social assistance recipients in subsidized employment and another 1,000 in non-subsidized placements.
Recipients who are referred to NCC receive either group or individual orientation to the programs and services available. Recipients in NCC programs are monitored by staff. After completing a program, recipients may return to NCC if further services are required. NCC staff also maintain contact with recipients who enter programs delivered through other agencies, such as basic education programs, to provide any needed support.
STS is committed to establishing an accountability framework and measures for assessing progress toward achieving the goals and objectives of the training strategy, and to implementing processes for evaluating and monitoring programs and services. Work began in 199798 to identify expected program and service outcomes and ways to measure and assess them.
Experience thus far with STS has suggested implications for the ongoing and future design of programs in terms of partnerships (these are complex and take time and effort), sustainable employment (investing in employees through wage subsidies is more effective than make-work projects), technology (information systems must be upgraded) and co-location (service coordination and integration for recipients continues to be difficult to achieve).
On April 1, 1998, the CanadaSaskatchewan Agreement on Labour Market Development came into effect, giving Saskatchewan responsibility to design and deliver employment programs and services funded through Employment Insurance.
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