Stettler Learning Centre staff broaden services in challenging times

“We are creative, we are innovative and we are resilient. We are flexible and we want to adapt.”

Despite uncertain times due to the ongoing pandemic, the staff of the Stettler Learning Centre continue to broaden their scope of educational opportunities.

“We do have quite a bit for February and March now,” explained Erin Wilkie, the Learning Centre’s manager.

Digital ‘drop-in’ services are also available.

“It’s for anybody who needs support with technology, whether they don’t have Internet or a computer at home, or they can also come in here and have one-on-one support,” she said, adding that it would include pretty much anything of a ‘digital’ nature. That in turn opens up all kinds of opportunities.

“If we can help give them basic skills there, then they can take the next step,” she said. “In the long run, that gets them employability and more confidence. We are also getting more calls from people needing to know these (computer) skills for their everyday lives.”

Peggy Vockeroth, a student adviser with Campus Alberta Central, agreed.

“We heard about that need (through surveys) and we are working to deliver it. And we have to deliver it in a unique environment.”

Campus Alberta Central is a partnership between Olds College and Red Deer College that provides post-secondary learning opportunities across Central Alberta.

Campus Alberta regional learning centres have also been set up in Drumheller, Ponoka, Rocky Mountain House and of course right here in Stettler via the Learning Centre.

It also fits in nicely with the mandate of the Learning Centre, added Wilkie, pointing out that staff aim to help students via what she calls a ‘laddering’ process.

”Our vision is also to ‘ladder’ young adults coming out of high school.” And if they aren’t quite ready to make the leap into post-secondary studies, the Learning Centre is equipped to offer a range of programs to help them prepare for that journey.

“We always have the GED prep course going, and we’ve had a lot of interest in that,” said Wilkie.

There are also the New Futures Career Transition Workshops.

“It’s about resume building, helping people explore what career directions they may want to go in and interviewing practice.”

It’s also about learning how to network and market one’s own skill set, manage a job transition, develop a cover letter, utilize social media platforms to network and find out where the jobs are and connect to them.

“When you are looking at a career change; a new journey in your life, it is about change – and about whether you want to ‘be on the bus’ or you don’t want to be on the bus,” said Vockeroth.

She also highlighted some new programs including the English Language Learning Health Care Aid Program out of Red Deer College. “It provides those new immigrants with a four-month English component moving into the Health Care Aid certificate component,” she explained. Those interested should contact the Centre as soon as possible.

“There is also our Health Care Aid program which is open to everybody. The key there is they have to have 60 per cent in English 20-2 as a pre-requisite to get into that. If you don’t have that, and this is a program you are interested in, you need to get on that now because our program will start in September,” she said, adding that there are student loans available for that course. There are 16 spots and the labs will be held in Stettler.

Also, pending approval, the Centre is hoping to host another Practical Nurse Program, too. It would start in September of 2022 but applications will open this year.

Other classes right around the corner (starting in February) include ‘Introduction to French’on Fridays from 6:30-8 p.m. (online); ‘Get Your Learners Licence’, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-8 p.m. (SLC); Self Acceptance workshops and ‘Drone Licence Training’ (online).

By appointment there is also ‘Basic Computer and Technology Support (SLC)’. Subsidies are available for some of these courses. Call the Centre for prices and more information.

In the meantime, the women explain that the Centre aims to provide a comfortable work space – particularly within the ongoing pandemic.

“Even when restrictions are lifted, I think there are still some who are going to be very, very cautious. So we need to build up that trust that it’s okay to have those groups settings again.

“We have to go through that phase, and we are going to do it to the best of our ability.”

Both women added that they aren’t convinced that most people in the community fully know how extensive the opportunities are via the Stettler Learning Centre, or how the organization can support both learners and employers.

To that end, they are excited about a new plan they are developing to more directly reach out.

“We are going to do the ‘Peg and Erin Roadshow’,” said Wilkie with a chuckle. The plan is to meet with folks and let them know about the range of services the Learning Centre offers.

“If people know what we can offer onsite, it’s a game changer for those who are advancing their education.”

Vockeroth agreed, noting that it’s about reminding industry and partners that, “Hey, we’ve got some great programs and we want to work with you.”

No doubt the pandemic has brought challenges, but there is a definite confidence about moving forward.

“We are creative, we are innovative and we are resilient,” said Vockeroth. “We are flexible and we want to adapt.”