Fall is back to school season for children, but also for adults. The Lloydminster Learning Council Association is the organization that sees to the needs of adult education in our community, whether it be safety courses for job requirements or learning a new language for work or pleasure, the Learning Council has it all.
“Our big program is English as a second language,” said Darlene MacDonald, executive director of the Lloydminster Learning Council. With all the newcomers, they have three different levels of classes: beginners;,intermediate and advanced.
The WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) program takes place in the afternoons. “The WHMIS program is great because we also offer top-care transportation,” said MacDonald. “We have some personal chauffeurs that are volunteers that transport the ladies and their families to the afternoon program.”
As some of them are very isolated, these rides are a bonus and they would not get out otherwise, because of their isolation and lack of transportation on top of not speaking the local language.
MacDonald is very pleased to say this volunteer chauffeur program reaches out to provide a much needed service in the community.
Considering the number of foreign workers that call Lloydminster
home, it’s no wonder these classes are always full.
The Lloydminster Learning Council also has family literacy programs that include Book for Babies and 1-2-3 Rhyme With Me, so from newborns to age four in those programs cover a lot of territory. “The family literacy programs are free of charge,” said MacDonald. “So, they get books, they get crafts, grandmas and grandpas can come down, with dads, their caregivers, aunties - the whole gamut.”
It all does not start and/or end with the learning council.
“We partner with a lot of people in the community to offer the programming, so that they provide facilities for us free of charge. We try to move the family literacy program through- out the community, so it is closer to a variety or number of families. So, we just don’t hold it in the same place,” said MacDonald.
The English as a second language program and the study program for newcomers is also at Lakeland College. MacDonald says it is a great facility to host large classes.
“We are very thankful to our partners who offer these as a non-profit, it really benefits us,” she said.
In the end, it benefits everyone and MacDonald cannot find a good enough adjective to describe the facilities and who these partnerships help, especially at the college.
The new workers to Canada just love the classes provided by the learning council, says MacDonald.
“Because they also get to meet other people, make friends, and we have more than just the classroom situation, we have a paid instructor, plus volunteer tutors, so they get a lot of extra one-on-one,” she said. There is also a chat group where they meet in the evenings or during the day for different activities.
These coffee groups, for lack of a better term, help the students learn to use their new language a little bit better.
Many other courses offered at the Learning Centre involve technology.
“Because technology is changing so rapidly, that adults and seniors really enjoy coming to our technol- ogy classes that kind of keep up with all the changes,” said MacDonald. “There are lots of adults who come who want to be promoted in their position, maybe they want to get into a job, stay-home moms want to get back into the workforce, or just keep up with the changes.”
Sometimes learning to use a computer can be as simple as wanting to connect with family members via the internet. As MacDonald says, some of the retirees are making their way back into the workforce to work part time. Bottom line is, “They just want to do some fun stuff on their iPhones, on their iPads and on their computers,” she said.
Learning how to navigate Windows 8 is probably one of the most sought after courses the Council offers. Registrar Gerri Pickett said, “They fill, and we have to add more technology classes, that’s how popular they are.
For the upcoming fall session, the council is offering more than twenty- five courses, and MacDonald is excited about it.
The language classes seem to be very popular as well.
“We have French and Spanish, and our Spanish classes are always full, because people are either working in another country or going to another country to work where they speak Spanish, or they are travelling,” said MacDonald.
Both MacDonald and Pickett agree that Spanish is becoming the world’s most spoken language.
When spring rolls around, the council will offer something new, a mental health first aid, two-day certificate course consisting of 12 hours. MacDonald said, “Lots of our non-profit organizations or schools send their staff to learn first aid. Some non-profits are mandated for their staff to have that.” But the course is also open to the general public.
MacDonald sums up what they do by saying, “If there is a need in our community and people tell us there is a need, and it is non-credit, non- profit, and nobody else is doing it, we’ll tackle it.”
Looking at the fall season, MacDonald says their programs and courses are looking very good and classes are very full.
Coming up in March of 2015, “We are one of the partners in Business Education Month,” said MacDonald. “We are going to do a special project – we just got approval from the Saskatchewan government–for workplace learning. So, if there is an employer out there that is interested in doing workplace literacy at their workplace for newcomers, give us a call.”