Guide for Service Providers Assisting Homeless or At-risk Clients

Official Title: Literacy and Essential Skills Guide for Service Providers Assisting Homeless or At-risk Clients

The Literacy and Essential Skills Guide for Service Providers Assisting Homeless or At-risk Clients helps you learn about the many essential skills tools available through Employment and Skills Development Canada (ESDC). These are tools that you can use to help your clients learn about the skills they will need to enter the work force.

Although the guide was created primarily for service providers who help people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, it may also be helpful to anyone who wants to learn more about literacy and essential skills.

The guide consists of three separate parts:

A detailed catalogue that includes descriptions and explanations of all the ESDC essential skills tools currently available.

Download PDF

You can download the PDF versions of these three sections:

Part 1: Understanding and Using the Tools

The Government of Canada, in collaboration with national and international agencies, has identified and validated nine key skills that are used in nearly every job.

See Tools, Assessments and Training Supports to:

  • obtain general information about the tools;
  • view a list of intended audiences;
  • see how the tools are organized; and
  • view or download the tools.

Customizing the Tools

The tools help meet the needs of a variety of users. They reflect typical workplace tasks carried out in various jobs and occupations. You may find that you want to adapt a tool to make it more specific to the needs of your clients.

When customizing any of the literacy and essential skills tools, remember to think about your clients’ potential needsand try to ensure the tool meets these needs. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Make sure the level of language is appropriate. Consider adding images relevant to the end user to help them better understand and relate to the material.
  • Think about creating an electronic template for the tool if you plan to use it repeatedly, or if you are working with clients who prefer using a computer.
  • Ensure your content is relevant and respectful.
  • When adapting the tools, take into account that people have different learning styles. For example, visual learners may prefer tools containing illustrations rather than a lot of text. In comparison, people who learn by doing may perform best with tools that are more interactive.
  • If you want to adapt your tools for particular professions, you can augment your content using the information found in any of the essential skills profiles. Alternatively, you may choose to create new tools based on other resources.

Part 2: Three Simple Steps to Selecting and Using the Tools – Scenarios for Service Providers

The three simple steps to selecting and using the tools are:

  • Step 1: Get Informed/Build Awareness

    Awareness-building tools, essential skills profiles
    These tools are designed to increase your understanding of essential skills and help you to communicate to clients why these skills are important to job success.

  • Step 2: Assess Essential Skills Requirements

    Needs assessments tools
    Use these tools to assess an individual’s essential skills and identify their strengths as well as areas that need improvement.

  • Step 3: Support Skills Development

    Learning and training supports tools
    These tools can help you develop a person’s essential skills. They can also assist you to integrate skills into training programs.

By following this process, you will be able to select the right tools to help you:

  • learn and communicate how essential skills contribute to job success;
  • understand your clients’ essential skills strengths and areas for improvement;
  • develop and improve your clients’ essential skills; and
  • integrate essential skills into existing training and development programs.

Scenarios

The following examples and scenarios can help you use and customize the various tools to meet the needs of different types of clients (e.g. job seekers or apprentices).

Essential skills profiles describe how workers in various occupations use each essential skill. Each profile includes examples of tasks that require a particular essential skill, and each task is assigned a level of complexity on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being basic and 5 being advanced).

Before you begin working with your client, you may want to have a look at your own job profile, the Essential Skills Profile for Community and Social Service Workers, and see examples of tasks involved in your own work.

Scenario 1: Preparing for a Job Interview

You are a support worker at a transitional housing facility.

Your client is an immigrant woman named Katya who wants help finding a job.

Background
Katya has not had a job since she arrived in Canada. She has a difficult time speaking English. Before coming to Canada, she worked as a server in a restaurant. She has noticed some help-wanted signs in local restaurants and says she is interested in doing similar work again. She asks you for your advice on how she can get started.

Step 1: Get Informed/Build Awareness
You can start by introducing Katya to essential skills and why they are important at work. You can also explore with Katya the essential skills profile for a food and beverage server, and begin discussing the tasks and skills required. This will help Katya better understand what an employer in the industry will be looking for.

Suggested tools:

Step 2: Assess the Client’s Essential Skills Needs
As Katya prepares to talk to restaurant managers who are hiring, you can help her recognize the skills she has to offer and develop a plan for her to work on the areas that she would like to improve.
Since Katya has a difficult time speaking English, you may want to start with a self-assessment in oral communication, followed by assessments in other skill areas.

Suggested tools:

Step 3: Support Skills Development
Katya lacks confidence communicating verbally. To help increase her comfort level and improve her oral communication skills, she could use the vocabulary building workbook. You could also encourage her to watch the video series on oral communication, which will help her to learn tips and tricks on what to do and what to avoid when she meets with a restaurant manager during an interview.

Suggested tools:

Scenario 2: Planning for Training

You are a worker at a youth drop-in centre.

Your client is a young man named Dave looking for advice on how to become an auto mechanic.

Background
Dave says he is trying to get his high-school equivalency certificate and has no experience in the automotive industry. He is interested in learning what skills are required for this work and what areas he may need to improve.

Step 1: Get Informed/Build Awareness
Early discussions with Dave could focus on essential skills and how they contribute to getting and keeping a job. Given his interest in a career as an auto mechanic, you might want to go through the essential skills profile for that occupation with him and review the typical tasks he would be expected to perform. Reviewing a fact sheet on how automotive service technicians use essential skills might also be useful.

Suggested tools:

Step 2: Assess the Client’s Essential Skills Needs
Having looked at the essential skills profile with Dave, you noted that reading, thinking and document use are the skills that automotive mechanics rely on the most. Assessing these skills may be a good starting place for Dave. You decide to begin with self-assessments for thinking and numeracy skills.

Suggested tools:

Step 3: Support Skills Development
The assessments showed that Dave’s thinking and numeracy skills are areas he might want to strengthen. You could recommend some learning tools to help with these skills, as well as some tools that are more focused on the trades.

Suggested tools:

Scenario 3: Supporting a Job Search

You are a counsellor at a homeless shelter.

Your client is an Aboriginal man named Rudy.

Background
Rudy tells you that he did not complete high school, that he has little experience applying for work and is not very confident in his skill set. He would like to write a résumé, start to improve his skills and increase his chances of a successful job search.

Step 1: Get Informed/Build Awareness
As Rudy does not have a specific occupation in mind, sharing stories of other people’s success may be a good starting point. These stories could be followed by questions that guide him and get him thinking about why he should improve his essential skills and how to do so.

Suggested tools:

Step 2: Assess the Client’s Essential Skills Needs
Once Rudy has thought about why and how he might want to improve his essential skills, you can ask if he would like to take an informal assessment. To do this, you could use the Essential Skills Needs Assessment tool. Organizations working with Aboriginal people that have used the tool say it can be a helpful way to begin a conversation with clients about how to build on their strengths.

Suggested tools:

Step 3: Support Skills Development
After spending a few sessions going through the ESNA together with you, Rudy decides to work on his writing skills. This will help improve his résumé-writing abilities and get him closer to achieving his employment goals. Rudy has also expressed an interest in improving his computer skills, so you could work on his résumé together using a computer. This will help him feel more comfortable, both with computers and with his writing abilities.

Suggested tools:

Scenario 4: Career Planning

You are an employment counsellor at a homeless shelter.

Your client is a man named Joe who is looking for advice on the skills he would need for construction work.

Background
Joe has not had much relevant experience and fears that his skills — especially his reading skills — will make it difficult to get the type of work he wants.

Step 1: Get Informed/Build Awareness
As Rudy does not have a specific occupation in mind, sharing stories of other people’s success may be a good starting point. These stories could be followed by questions that guide him and get him thinking about why he should improve his essential skills and how to do so.

Suggested tools:

Step 2: Assess the Client’s Essential Skills Needs
Now that Joe has a better understanding of the essential skills needed to work in construction, you can help him to identify his particular needs. He already has an idea that reading might be a problem area, but you could offer other self-assessment tools to help him recognize other potential strengths and weaknesses.

Suggested tools:

Step 3: Support Skills Development
The assessments showed that Joe is confident in most of the essential skills, but his reading skills could be improved. You also noticed that he is nervous about working with unfamiliar people, and you know that construction work often requires teamwork. You could recommend the relevant tip sheets to improve Joe’s skills, and support him to set goals and track his skills development. You can also help him identify people, community resources and websites to further prepare him for his job training.

Suggested tools:

Part 3: Literacy and Essential Skills Tools Catalogue

For a complete listing of all tools, as well as their intended audiences, see the Literacy and Essential Skills Tools Catalogue.

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