Surviving Downsizing: Reimagining Yourself in a Post-Layoff World
Project Lead: Jan Smith, Palliser Regional Library
The Poplar Valley Mine and SaskPower’s Coronach Power Plant was to close over three years and 300 employees would be out of work (area population 1498).
About thirty percent of the working aged population had high school education or less. This area is rural and remote and has no other major employers. It is on the American border, two and half hours from Regina.
Most of the workers had never worked anywhere else and had been out of the job market for so long they did not even know where to start. What made this project unique is that the aim was to proactively address the post-closure retraining and job-hunting issue by creating a service that will, over the next six years, effectively mitigate not only the displaced workers experiences but their families’ experiences as well. The project used the skills and resources developed during COVID-19 to deliver these courses.
Using Zoom and working with the communities and our partners, the project:
- In consultation with partners and students, designed a re-education plan using best practices.
- Promoted and added modules to the online academy based on employee training needs. Two, possibly three, levels of courses were required: basic and advanced/job hunting/skills updates.
- Consolidated into packages and curated new courses as proposed by stakeholders.
- Created additional modules on how to job hunt: resume writing, using social media services such as LinkedIn, using Zoom for interviews. There were hopes to expand it to include applying for E.I. and applying for retraining funding through government.
Evaluated results and made the plan available to all interested (towns’ companies, farmers and ranchers), as there are many more mine closures expected across the province in the next decade.
The project proposal was based on a mill and power plant closure timeline that kept moving back. This and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic required additional work to find and connect with displaced workers. The extended timeline allowed us to successfully connect agencies to each other.
As a result of these new connections, the project lead organization, Palliser Regional Library, was invited to take a seat on the Prairie Skies Integration Network.
The Displaced Worker Project virtual meetings were a great opportunity to connect and share positive stories and for project leads to support and learn from each other.
We identified the need for teaching soft skills as no other agency was providing this service. The grade equivalent program at Saskatchewan Polytechnique is now integrating soft skills into their curriculum.
The ABC Life Literacy curriculum was an excellent resource to use for virtual classes. Their curriculum and other resources are highly recommended.
The project had four participants. One has now gone on to find employment. Another participant took the classes to help their seasonal farmhands succeed as employees. One participant was employed, however, they wanted to continue to work on the skills offered in the classes. The final participant completed one class and did not continue.