Professional Skills Training Program

In its report on professional skills (Skill Savvy), Electricity Human Resources Canada (EHRC) established that students and new graduates from postsecondary education programs show non-technical skills gaps that need to be addressed either before or as they enter the workforce. The report revealed the diverse nature of skills gaps observed in students and new graduates from engineering and technician/technologist programs across Canada.

There are various ways to respond to these gaps. EHRC proposed, in a subsequent thought paper (Empowering the Next-Generation Workforce), that work-integrated learning (WIL) is the most appropriate and efficient means to help students and new graduates to close these gaps. To equip students with tools to make the most of the opportunities work integrated learning offers, EHRC has developed the Professional Skills Training Program, aimed at preparing students and new grads with the skills they need to succeed in their careers.

The Professional Skills Training Program is made of complementary components which can also be used as stand-alone training pieces. Employers or educators can take learners through these components to increase their awareness and help them develop these skills.

Introduction to Professional Skills

When it comes to professional skills, every industry has specific needs. The minimum requirement for anyone entering the sector is the knowledge of what is required to perform efficiently. EHRC has produced videos that will introduce and familiarize learners with the ten most wanted skills in the sector. Students or new graduates can watch each of these short videos to be aware of skills needed to develop and apply when working. These videos help make clear:

  • What each professional skill is
  • How the skills are applied
  • Where the professional skills gaps are
  • The importance of each skill
  • How these skills gaps impact career goals and bottom line
  • Success stories of the application of these skills
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Online Training

Students and new workers won’t always have the opportunity to learn in a classroom setting. For those interested in developing these skills on their own, EHRC has developed an online training program. With this digital tool kit, learners are empowered to take charge of their own professional development. The ten professional skills in which students and new graduates present gaps are grouped in what EHRC has termed composite skills. These composite skills are:

  • Communication
  • Problem solving
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Learning

Learners can make use of this toolkit prior to going into the workplace or as part of their onboarding. For students in a WIL experience, the lessons included in this toolkit would be useful prior to the start of their term.

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Applied Training

Through a series of sessions, students and new workers can put into practice the skills they have been developing. The Skill Savvy report shows that group practice activities were the most effective way to acquire the skills required for the electricity industry. Learning alongside others provides students an opportunity to reflect on their attitudes towards the professional skills, but also a chance to observe the various nuances surrounding the application of those skills.

For the applied training component, EHRC has developed facilitator guides, facilitator slide decks, skills learning group activities and participant guides that educators and trainers can use to train their learners. EHRC research revealed that the following five skills are the most critical, which will be the subject of this component:

  • Critical thinking and decision-making
  • Collaboration
  • Active listening
  • Time management
  • Social perceptiveness

This component is ideal prior to starting a WIL term or as part of the new graduate’s onboarding sessions.

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Mentor Junction

These skills may require a lot more than just a short training session: someone developing these skills may require a more personalized follow-up. The mentoring component is intended for those learners requiring or seeking additional support.

EHRC has developed a mentoring platform, Mentor Junction, that pairs learners with industry professionals as mentors. On this platform, EHRC also provides resources to support both mentors and mentees as they advance towards the accomplishment of the mentee’s learning goals.

This mentoring component is ideally taken while the student or new graduate is in the workplace.

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