Free Employability and Life Skills Resources: ABC Life Literacy – UP Skills for Work

UP Skills for Work logo from ABC Life Literacy Canada

We recently had the opportunity to meet with Alison Howard, Executive Director of ABC Life Literacy Canada (ABC). Alison shared a wealth of interesting and valuable information about the organization and the variety of free learning resources they offer. While ABC provides several resource-rich programs that would be helpful to career professionals and their clients, this post will focus on their UP Skills for Work program.

ABC Life Literacy Canada’s Mandate

ABC Life Literacy Canada champions literacy in Canada by empowering adult learners, raising awareness, and collaborating with and supporting the adult learning sector. The organization envisions a Canada where everyone has the skills and opportunities to fully participate in learning, life, and work.

ABC Programs for Careerpros and Their Clients

ABC has several programs that teach the skills necessary to enhance living, learning, and working. For example, they offer financial and digital literacy programs, among many others.

The UP Skills for Work program is ideal for anyone working with job-seeking clients or those looking to improve their knowledge and skills. The program focuses on improving employability and soft skills, which are rarely taught, yet extremely vital and valued by employers.

Access to UP Skills for Work is completely free. Any organization can sign up to run a workshop on one of the many topics, such as Accountability, Motivation, and Time Management. Workshop hosts will receive free workbooks and an honorarium of $25 for each workshop delivered. Organizations can also deliver the program through ABC’s free online platform, the ABC Skills Hub.

Organizations can choose to facilitate the program themselves or ask ABC to provide a facilitator. The curriculum is written for adult literacy learners, and the content is introductory and easy to understand.

Skills Taught in the UP Skills for Work Program

UP Skills for Work focuses on key employability and life skills. These skills help workers to be adaptable and motivated throughout their whole employment and as they move into new roles or careers. They also lay the foundation for a strong and flexible workforce and for happy, fulfilled citizens.

UP Skills for Work covers a total of 16 topics — nine of which align with the skills identified by the Government of Canada’s Skills for Success model. These include Adaptability, Collaboration, Communication, Creativity & Innovation, Digital, Numeracy, Problem Solving, Reading, Stress Management, and Writing. The additional employability and life skills topics include Motivation, Attitude, Accountability, Presentation, Time Management, Confidence, and Stress Management. Stress Management is particularly relevant because stress can often be a big part of work. When too much stress builds up over time, it can affect our work, our personal lives, and even our health. Learning to deal with stress in a healthy way can improve our well-being, both at work and at home.

These kinds of soft skills are extremely valued by employers because they are rarely taught on the job, unlike hard skills. When workers come to work equipped with all the right skills, they are more likely to succeed.

Delivering UP Skills for Work Training Sessions

UP Skills for Work is designed for flexible delivery in any location — from community learning centres to workplaces. Workshops can be held virtually or in person, and ABC provides printed workbooks for learners to follow along and write in. Each workshop typically runs for 60 to 90 minutes.

Organizations have the option of running the program themselves or with an ABC facilitator. ABC instructors have backgrounds in adult education and program facilitation, and they deliver workshops in an inclusive and engaging manner that promotes discussion.

Measuring Student Success

ABC asks participating organizations to complete surveys to be able to help measure the success of the program. ABC also has workshop hosts ask their students to complete pre- and post-workshop evaluations on their perceived skill level, confidence, and intent to implement what they have learned and to continue their learning.

The workshops are presented in a way that facilitates discussion, so there is ample opportunity for organizations to monitor and observe the progress of participants.

Connecting Clients to UP Skills for Work

The UP Skills for Work program is completely free and accessible for anyone to use! Organizations or employers that want to host workshops can simply sign up at From there, they will be connected to their regional ABC community coordinator, who will speak with them about their upcoming workshop, and provide all the necessary materials, including facilitation, if requested.

For those clients who prefer learning on their own time, the UP Skills for Work courses are also offered online. Through the ABC Skills Hub, learners are able to complete online courses at their own pace, save their work in progress, and download course content and helpful reminders of what they’ve learned. The ABC Skills Hub is fully accessible on both mobile and desktop. All privacy, data, and personal information of learners is well protected. Learn more and sign up for free at ABC Skills Hub.

For those clients who require additional support with literacy, including skills training or academic upgrading, consider referring them to ABC’s LEARN program.

Since 1994, LEARN has connected adult learners with literacy programs in their community based on their needs. Organizations from every province and territory are listed in the LEARN database. Users can search for programming in the areas of ESL, workplace skills training, high school equivalency preparation, and family literacy, among others.

Call to Action: How Members of Career Professionals of Canada Can Help Promote ABC Life Literacy Canada and its Programs

Let’s raise awareness of ABC’s free resources and programming which help to improve skills and confidence. Please share their website with your colleagues, employers, and clients. Encourage them to make use of ABC Life Literacy Canada’s many valuable, free resources and bring workshops to your communities.

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