About EES-HS

Project Overview

The high need for essential workers in the healthcare sector and many nursing homes/assisted living facilities is widely recognized, with many employers struggling to fill vacant positions. The demand for health care services is expected to soon exceed human resource supply. Greater attention and proactive solutions to skills gaps and chronically vacant positions are prudent. Despite efforts to address the challenge, the needs around recruitment and retention appear to have grown. Increased reports of staffing shortages, including resident attendants and other entry-level positions across the Atlantic provinces are rampant. Adequately caring for our aging population is not possible without an appropriately trained workforce.

Research indicates that there’s an urgent need for workers in the following positions:

  • Resident Attendants/Health Care Aides
  • General Helpers/Personal Support Assistants
  • Kitchen Aides/servers
  • Cooks/Dishwashers
  • Housekeeping/Laundry Staff

The EES-HS project employed a holistic approach, training both project participants as well as people managers at participating workplaces. The training consisted of:

  • 30 hours of mentor training for people managers
  • 8-10 weeks of classroom/virtual training for participants
  • 1-week on-the-job training
  • A 5-week paid work placement with a participating health sector employer

Goals and Objectives

Anticipated results & benefits
Increase the pool of skilled labour available
A better workforce and competitive advantage
Connect unemployed workers in rural communities to available jobs
Lower unemployment rate and hire locally
Strengthen attachment of job seekers to employers with job-related training and better skills match to available jobs
Create a stronger long-term pool of workers with skills adapted to the specific employer
Improve individual literacy and essential skills
Increase self-esteem/dignity and provide everyday life essential skill
Increase essential skills of supervisors and middle managers to become essential skills mentors/coaches
Support employee onboarding and improve performance and retention
Develop and test an innovative and highly contextualized blended learning approach with customized content and a community approach
Create a strong link between workforce and workplace with better support and more relevant training

Essential Employability Skills Profiles

This initiative targeted the following skills:


The project targeted health sector facilities facing labour shortages and unemployed or underemployed individuals.
These factors are hindering the health sector's ability to meet client demand and stay competitive in a global world.

The project took a pan-Atlantic Canadian approach where the lessons learned would provide important knowledge for future expansion into other industries.

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 unemployed and under-employed individuals taking part in the program while also providing valuable supervisory tools and strategies to assist in this success.

Delivering the program through a blended learning approach combining classroom, online and on-the-job training, which we called blended learning, proved be very effective to better prepare the participants for the workplace.
Here's how we did it

We created Community Advisory Groups (CAGs) to bring together agencies and organizations that work with unemployed and underemployed individuals, identify appropriate pilot participants, and community resources to support participants in overcoming barriers to employment.

The curriculum materials integrated essential and employability skills into the training program designed specifically for available entry-level jobs in the health sector. The curriculum also included a mentor training package for pilot site supervisors/managers.

Participating employers identified and allowed supervisors and middle managers to participate in a customized essentials skills mentorship training. The intent of the program was to support the application of essential and employability skills in the workplace and the Essential Employability Skills for the Health Sector (EES-HS) participants during the workplace experience components of the project.

Project Timeline

By the numbers

  • 20 health sector employers participated in the EES-HS project
  • 35 of 39 supervisors/managers completed the mentor training
  • 73 participants enrolled in the EES-HS training
  • 66 of 73 participants completed the classroom/virtual training
  • 40 of 66 participants completed the on-the-job training
  • 32 of 40 participants completed the work placement and were offered a job with their pilot site employer


Three months following their participation in the Essential Employability Skills for the Health Sector (EES-HS) project:

  • 47 of the 73 participants (65%) reported being employed
  • 26 of these were still employed by their EES-HS employer
  • 16 were employed elsewhere

Of the 73 participants, 6 are current or prospective post-secondary students pursuing higher education in the health sector:

  • 3 participants in the Resident Care Worker Program
  • 2 participants in the Licensed Practical Nurse Program
  • 1 in university-level academic upgrading in preparation for the Registered Nurse Program