In the News

Our Essential Skills for Atlantic Fisheries (ESAF) project gained some great media attention across the four Atlantic provinces. We’ve complied the news articles below.

Click on a headline below to read it:

New literacy program provides training, paid work in aquaculture industry

Published on CBC’s website in September 2019, this article talks about our partner organization, PEI Literacy Alliance, and their part of the ESAF project. It includes an interview with the Literacy Alliance’s Executive Director, Jinny Greaves, and a participant in the project.

Essential-skills fishery program moves online, expands during COVID-19

Published on CBC’s website in May of 2020, this article looks at one of the success stories of the ESAF project when it was forced to move online due to Covid in the spring of 2020.

Jeffrey’s man navigating the challenges of online learning with Essential Skills for Atlantic Fisheries program

Published on The Telegram’s website in May of 2020, the article looks at another of our partner organizations, the Newfoundland and Labrador Laubach Literacy Council, and their success with ESAF and online learning during Covid.

Note: The following articles are photos. If you are using a screen reader or text to speech option, the contents of the article are in the alt text.

Adult learner Hilary Woods receives literacy award for studies that helped him find work
CORNER BROOK, N.L. – Hilary Woods came a long way in just a few weeks, all with the Newfoundland and Labrador Laubach Literacy Council’s help.

For his efforts, the fish plant worker from Humber Arm South was recently awarded the council’s 2018-19 Student of the Year award.

The award is presented annually to Laubach learners who have made significant progress in learning.

He accepted the award as part of Family Literacy Day at the Corner Brook Civic Centre Studio on Jan. 27.

Woods was a student of the council’s Essential Skills for the Atlantic Fisheries Project for eight weeks, which started in February 2019.

The project provides literacy and essential skill training for jobs in the fisheries and aquaculture sector in Atlantic Canada.

It helped people like Woods with reading, writing, document use, computer skills, math and first aid.

He was nominated for the award by Jennifer Brake, the project facilitator for the Laubach Literacy Council.

While Woods was initially unsure about going back to school and getting training, Brake said he stuck with it and showed dedication to his studies.

“He was probably the only student that showed up every day, early,” she told The Western Star. “He walked to school every day and he was always there with a smile on his face.”

Woods believes the most important aspect for him was help with his communication skills.

Brake explained they worked with particiants and supervisors at the fhis plant on how to communicate with each other in a productive fashion.

“The most important part to me was listening to people who you’re working for,” Woods told The Western Star. “Communication means a lot.”

The essential skills learned from the course has helped Woods find and maintain employment at a local fish plant.

“I got a job,” he said proudly. “I’m working.”
Virtual training – taking learning out of the classroom and into your home
CHARLOTTE COUNTY – The Essential Skills for Atlantic Fisheries (ESAF) program is funded by the Government of Canada’s National Essential Skills Initiatives is setting examples in how resilient people can be during a pandemic. The program was brought to Charlotte County by the Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick, which is a non-profit organization which focuses on helping New Brunswick residents of all ages improve literacy and other skills.

Once the participants have completed the classroom portion of this program online, the next goal is to match them with local employers in the fisheries industry. The training they receive online will be followed with on-the-job training, and then ultimately, a work placement and an opportunity for full time employment. 

Sherry Deveau, project coordinator, said they had to “react very quickly to make a decision” about whether or not ESAF would cancel the course due to COVID-19, or find another way to deliver it to participants. The final decision was to move the program to a virtual classroom, and the participants say they are getting a lot out of the program, maybe even more than if they were sitting in a traditional classroom.

“We asked the participants and the facilitator to consider continuing in an online, virtual classroom format, and we were surprised at the uptake,” said Deveau. “Everyone agreed. Our resilience through COVID-19 hinges on how we adapt to new norms, and this is an example of how this works when people are willing to keep an open mind, try something new, and support one another.”

Each participant received a computer and other resources they would need to make sure they were fully equipped to take the program at home. They had to adapt to a new way of learning, and even though most people are used to using computers for social networking, this is something that is completely different and new to most of them.

Program Facilitator Kelly Lord said they all had to adapt quickly to this new way of learning, and this can feel a bit overwhelming at first. But, the participants are doing well, and seem to be getting a lot out of the program.

“We were delighted to be able to continue this program, and even more delighted that all of the participants were open to giving this a try,” said Lord. 

“This speaks to their character and adaptability,” added Deveau.

At the end of their training, the participants hope to start a career with local companies in the fisheries industry, and all of them feel that they are getting a lot out of the program, perhaps even more than if they were sitting in a traditional classroom. They all say that they have received many benefits from online training, and in some cases, it has removed barriers that would prevent them from being in a classroom every day.

Participant Dan Cooke said he didn’t see a problem with moving to a virtual classroom.

“We knew it would be a little bit challenging at first, but it seems to be going good so far. I’m enjoying it,” said Cooke. “It’s very relaxed, you work at your own pace. You can take stuff in a bit easier sometimes because you don’t have the distractions around you. I’m going to take a lot out of this course. Not just computer skills, but being able to work with a team better and things like that.

“We’re learning the skills we need to get a job and keep a job, and that helps me out quite a bit. You can transfer skills to everyday life, communication, responsibilities, etc.”

One of the aspects the participants said they like about online training is they can work at home, in a comfortable atmosphere with fewer distractions than they would find in a regular classroom. They also said this is giving them a chance to hone their computer skills – bringing those skills back to where they should be.

Pariticpant Felicia Leavitt said she finds she is better ablet o focus while learning at home. She said she is easily distracted, and is able to learn more through the virtual classroom.

“It’s not like the classroom didn’t help, but I can focus more when I don’t have everyone around me. I’ve learned a lot about fish,” Leavitt laughed. “The benefit is a good job, and being able to work with good people. I’ve worked at Cooke’s before, but there are a lot of things that are different from what is in the factory.”

James Mahar, who is also in the program, said there are pros and cons to taking the course online. He likes the relaxed atmosphere, but said if there is something he gets stuck on, he has to wait until the following daywhen he can ask about it in class. Mahar said he hopes to be able to get back into the workforce after taking this course. He said taking the course is likecompanies are already investing in him, and he hopes that what he is learning will enable him to have the opportunity to work his way up and into a department that he really enjoys.

All the participants said they are seeking employment, and this course will enable them to find work that isn’t just seasonal. While there are many employment opportunities in the area, this was an opportunity for them to move into good paying jobs that will help them to provide for their families and make them feel like they are valuable employees.