Province partners with Red Deer College in pilot project

A new initiative will help Albertans with language barriers gain the skills they need to build careers and support our health-care system.

The two-year pilot program integrates English language learning with health-care aide training, enabling Albertans with English language barriers to access the specialized and comprehensive education they need to be successful front-line health-care workers.

Four post-secondary institutions from across the province are participating in the pilot program and will begin accepting up to 130 students in the first year, with training starting in March 2021. They are Red Deer College, Bow Valley College, Columbia College and NorQuest College.

“Red Deer College is excited to be among the post-secondary institutions in our province to partner with the Government of Alberta in piloting this unique training opportunity,” Peter Nunoda, president, Red Deer College.

“RDC is proud to increase applied learning opportunities in our region that respond to the needs of our diverse students who seek to create successful lives and meaningful careers as health-care aides. We are equally proud to provide highly qualified graduates who will assist Albertans as they contribute to healthier communities, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and well into the future.”

Alberta’s government is investing an estimated $3.8 million in the initiative, which will support 324 students over the next two years and help Alberta meet the growing demand for front-line health-care workers. A successful pilot will also provide a model to expand integrated English language training to other programs and professions.

“This pilot program is going to help so many people. Albertans will have greater access to the health care they need, and students will receive language training assistance so they can follow their dreams of working in the health-care system,” said Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health.

“As future health-care aides, they will play critical roles across the system.”    

This innovative program ensures Alberta produces highly skilled graduates, while empowering more students to begin their education and rapidly launch their careers. The integrated and condensed training enables students to meet or exceed English language program requirements and graduate sooner.

Upon graduation, students will have the knowledge and skills they need to be successful front-line caregivers, and the advanced language skills to communicate well with their colleagues, patients and families.

This initiative provides new skill development opportunities, helps meet the demand for skilled workers and supports the COVID-19 public health response by increasing training capacity for front-line health-care workers.

The pilot, developed in partnership with Alberta Health, integrates comprehensive English language training into the existing health-care aide program curriculum, ensuring students have the language skills they need to be successful, boosting enrolment, and producing highly skilled graduates.

An additional 194 students are expected in the second year, for a total of 324 students. Students participating in the pilot will be fully funded through the Learner Income Support Program.

Upon completion of the two-year pilot program, Alberta will measure its success and consider expanding the English second language integrated training model to more programs and other post-secondary institutions.