Manitoba Civil Service Commission: The Career Gateway Program for Visible Minorities
The Gateway Program has been a hugely successful initiative of the Manitoba Civil Service Commission. It provides employment and training opportunities for approximately 30 positions (professional, technical, administrative and within the skilled trades) within the Government of Manitoba in fields that relate to the education, training and experience of highly skilled immigrants. Applicants must be legally entitled to work in Canada, a member of a visible minority, possess good communication skills, and appropriate training or an equivalent combination of education, training and experience to meet position requirements. Applicants are assessed on the basis of their qualifications, including, of course, any relevant paper-based credentials. However it doesn’t stop there. It also includes all relevant prior learning such as related training and education, as well as formal and informal learning from relevant work experiences. Once accepted, a candidate goes to an appropriate term placement where management has determined there will be a recruitment need in the future. S/he then is provided with orientation, coaching, training and development which address any gaps which may exist between her /his qualifications (i.e. relevant prior learning) and the requirements of that particular position. The purpose here is prepare candidates to compete successfully for positions in the Manitoba civil service
Since its inception in 2004, 182 visible minority and recent immigrant candidate have been successfully placed or referred to a wide range of positions. Although there is no guarantee of regular employment at the end of each placement, a significant majority have gone on to successful careers within Manitoba Government departments. The Gateway Program has a well justified reputation among middle and senior managers in this province’s civil service for regularly finding skilled immigrants who match many of the requirements of the position and for working hard and skillfully to identify and close skill or knowledge gaps that do exist.
Gateway is a shining example, within Manitoba’s largest employer, of the application of the principles of PLAR/RPL. Applicants are encouraged to assess their own prior learning broadly and this is then rigourously assessed so that each one who is accepted is placed in a position that is a close match for their qualifications. Different types of gap training then completes the job. b. Nothing could better exemplify PEARL - the pursuit of excellence in the assessment and recognition of learning.
Congratulations to the Civil Service Commission, to Gateway and to its manager, Sam Grande.
Manitoba Civil Service Commission: Guidelines for barrier free job opportunity advertising
The Manitoba government is one of the largest if not the largest employer in the province. Like all employers in this province it must abide by the Manitoba Human Rights Code. However, clearly it has a special responsibility to the Code as it must ensure that it adheres to its own legislation and the principles of equity and justice which the Code expresses. It must walk the walk.The Barrier-free guidelines are an extraordinary example of a government doing just that with respect to prior learning.
Among other things, the guidelines identify ten types of systemic barriers which could discourage members of designated groups from applying. At least five of these barriers are explicitly related to prior learning (Credential, Experiential, Knowledge, Abilities/skills, and Level) . To give you a taste of how explicit and how plainly but beautifully expressed the guidelines are, here is one example:
“A credential should be included in a job advertisement only where accreditation is required by law… or is the ONLY means of obtaining the skills etc … Avoid indirect references to credentials. A credential does not guarantee better performance or greater aptitude. Focus on the qualities or knowledge needed to perform the work effectively.
Barriers may occur when you ask for ...a degree, diploma certificate or license unless you allow for an equivalent combination of education and experience. ...ensure that you fully outline the type of experience and training that is equivalent to a degree. Otherwise there may be a perception that a degree will be given greater weight than work experience which may make qualified candidates without degree reluctant to apply. …“)
The guidelines were created and came into effect in 1997 (and were revised in 2009) to uphold the principles of equity and justice and to increase the success rate of underrepresented groups in employment. As can/will b e seen by the track record of another PEARL Award winner, the Career Gateway Program these principles are being practiced.
It is rare indeed to see this type of systemic change take place so explicitly and to such effect. The Manitoba Civil Service Commission now, as a matter of practice, encourages applicants to fully assess and include a record of all of their own learning relevant to the position for which they are applying. Without this concrete information coming forward from applicants, the best intentions of the employer in terms of recognizing prior learning could not be realized.
In short, these guidelines are not only the critical first step in establishing a successful RPL process, they are a concrete sign in themselves of the level of commitment of the Commission to the principles of inclusive assessment and recognition of prior learning. Nothing could better exemplify PEARL i.e. the pursuit of excellence in the assessment and recognition of learning. Congratulations from MPLAN to the Manitoba Civil Service Commission for this remarkable achievement.