Essential Skills for Atlantic Fisheries (ESAF) is an innovative approach to training for vacant entry-level positions in the Atlantic Canadian fisheries sector.
The holistic approach to training focused not only on participants, but on supervisors and middle managers, as well. This two-pronged approach sought to develop skills which would maximize the chances of long-term success for the individuals entering vacant entry-level positions while also providing supervisors with valuable tools and strategies to assist in this success.

The project targeted the fishing industry in rural coastal communities facing labour shortages and unemployed or underemployed individuals. These factors are hindering the Atlantic seafood industry’s ability to meet client demand and stay competitive in a global world.

The ESAF project was funded by the Government of Canada’s National Essential Skills Initiatives. It was led by the Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick in partnership with Literacy Nova Scotia, PEI Literacy Alliance and Newfoundland and Labrador Laubach Literacy Council.


Participant, facilitators and employers have all benefited from this great project. Listen to their testimonials below.
Read Patrick Curtis’s story. A true ESAF Success.
Download PDF

Results & Outcomes

Overall, the results and outcomes of the ESAF initiative were extremely positive. High-level results include:
A replicable literacy and essential skills (LES) training model including a communication strategy, information kits and training materials in both official languages.
Increased number of individuals accessing essential skills supports.
Improved essential skills for individuals participating in the pilots.
Improved integration of essential skills into workplaces practices (e.g. recruitment, onboarding and people management) among participating organizations.
Improved essential skills for managers/supervisors (e.g. working with others, oral communication, thinking skills, etc.) contributing to their ability to be effective in their roles as managers/supervisors, capacity to retain employment, as this training is part of wraparound supports for vulnerable workers.
Improved business outcomes (e.g. satisfaction, ROI, reduced error rates, reduced accidents, increased retention, and improved productivity and customer service) among participating organizations.
A pool of skilled labour available to the fisheries sector.
Improved wellness and wellbeing (e.g. health, psycho-social capital,
self-efficacy, self-confidence, resilience) among pilot participants.
Increased number of organizations with capacity to offer essential skills supports.
A standalone online learning portal in both official languages with self-paced and virtual classroom options.

Story Board

The project was deemed a great success and was purposefully developed to be easily transferrable to other industries, such as health care.


Case Studies

The below case studies provide some great insights on the ESAF journey from an employer and facilitator point of view.
Jennifer Brake
Cooke Aquaculture
King Aquaculture
North Atlantic Aquaponics


ESAF Synopsis
Interim Evaluation Report
Final Evaluation Report
Summary of Evaluation Findings for French Cohort
Final Project Report


To learn more about the ESAF project and how it can be adapted for your needs, please contact us to get access to the Resources section.