Training in the spotlight during Learn@Work Week

A look at how employers are celebrating learning in the workplace Sept. 24-28
||Last Updated: 10/03/2007

Ed Kamps is in hiring mode. The manager of HR at Suncor Energy’s operations in Fort McMurray, Alta., is expecting to see double digit employment growth over the next year.

That’s in line with recent numbers from Statistics Canada, that show employment in the oil and gas sector has increased 22 per cent from 1997 to 2006. Along with this increased employment comes a greater need for employee training, specifically those programs related to operations and safety.

“The need for training for new employees will only get bigger,” said Kamps. “We are expect 10 per cent to 20 per cent employment growth over the next year.”

In order to raise the profile of workplace learning at Suncor, the company has joined a growing list of Learn@Work Week “champions” — organizations across Canada that are putting the spotlight on the activities and impact of their learning and development programs during the week of Sept. 24-28.

For more information about Learn@Work Week, click the links below or scroll down the page:

What is Learn@Work Week?

Case study: The Region of Peel

Case study: George Brown College

Top 10 ways to celebrate Learn@Work Week

Links to CSTD events

What is Learn@Work Week?

The event is hosted annually by the Canadian Society for Training and Development (CSTD) to encourage the recognition of the impact of workplace training to business success, and to highlight best practices.

From presentations to poster displays to employee awards, companies across the country are recognizing the role of learning in contributing to Canada’s economic development.

“Learing is about driving higher levels of performance and success for organizations,” said Courtney Pratt, honourary chair of Learn@Work Week. “I also strongly believe that learning is about helping employees reach their full potential so they can contribute to their organizations, to their communities and to Canadian society as a whole.”

Region of Peel

Judy Zon, the manager of learning and development for the Region of Peel, a municipality located west of Toronto that includes the cities of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon, said it’s important to take time and reinforce the importance of learning in the workplace.

“We want to acknowledge that learning happens everyday throughout the organization and we want to recognize the efforts of many people who contribute to learning,” said Zon. “We need to reinforce the message that it is okay to take time to think, reflect and learn as part of work and that learning is not separate or time off work.”

She said Learn@Work Week is an opportunity to tell employees about the variety of opportunities in the workplace. To mark the event, the Region of Peel is holding an all day “learning expo.” The expo will feature displays and information, and staff will be available to explain various learning opportunities in the organization.

These include workshops, a mentoring program, a healthy workplace program, diversity initiatives, Toastmasters, computer training, tuition assistance and public health and environment programs.

It will also be holding a leadership forum that focuses on the leader’s role in creating a positive learning environment and it will be recognizing employees who have reached a significant educational milestone (such as a degree, diploma or professional designation) in the past year, said Zon.

Zon said the week is marked with “abundant communications” — including notices posted on the intranet, flyers and posters — and tips for management to encourage involvement.

There is also a “modest” giveaway for employees, consisting of a bookmark, she said.

Training has evolved in recent years at the Region of Peel, moving from a primary focus on classroom events to a growing appreciation and participation in a variety of formal and non-formal learning activities, she said.

There has also been:

•more visible and active involvement of leaders encouraging, supporting and sometimes facilitating learning;

•a more integrated approach positioning learning as part of a more comprehensive approach to talent management; and

•a movement towards better alignment of learning to organizational strategic directions and measurement of return on investment.

To get employees excited about learning, Zon said the region is linking learning to career development and the employer’s commitment to help employees grow within the organization.

“(We’re) encouraging employees to be accountable for their learning and are providing guidance and tools,” she said, such as personal learning plans.

They’re also providing “many opportunities for all employees at all levels to become involved in corporate and cross-functional initiatives.”

George Brown College

Tyler Krimmel, a trainer in the staff development department at Toronto’s George Brown College, said the event is being marked with workplace learning awareness activities and celebrations.

“We’ve decided to focus on the positive results of workplace training, lifelong learning and professional development in the lives of staff and faculty,” said Krimmel. “This being a post-secondary institution, learning and development is in many ways woven into the fabric of our being. More than ever, we find that trends, demographics and technologies are constantly changing in this sector. As George Brown College is located in the heart of Canada’s largest and most diverse city, we experience these changes first hand and our faculty incorporate many of these examples into their own teaching.”

Krimmel said the college is planning on distributing a daily Learn@Work Week newsletter throughout the week.

“The newsletter will highlight opportunities that exist within George Brown College to enhance employee wellness and development,” said Krimmel. “(It) will also highlight individual staff and faculty as ‘learning leaders.’”

Last week, staff and faculty at the college were invited to share stories and experiences about lifelong learning in their own lives, said Krimmel. The staff development team picked the five most inspiring stories and will display one individual’s entry each day. The newsletter will also include “brain-busting trivia” to engage participants.

“The purpose is to challenge staff and faculty to shift their routine and exercise their minds with math, logic and language puzzles,” said Krimmel. “For further incentive, the first three correct respondents each day receive a prize.”

Staff will also be given a magnetic bookmark, and the staff development department is launching a revised website that makes it easier for employees to search the training database and lets them access training materials and forms online.

Krimmel said it’s important to take time to celebrate learning in the workplace for a number of reasons.

“In most workplaces today, not just in the college environment, success is not simply the result of hard work and dedication, but of focus, ingenuity and the acceptance of constant change and evolution,” said Krimmel. “In the college environment, our students surf the waves of constantly changing trends in technology, media and social interaction, always catching the newest, the biggest and the best. By recognizing Learn@Work Week, and further celebrating lifelong learning with staff, we hope to create an environment in which employees feel both supported and rewarded.

Top 10 ways to celebrate workplace learning

The CSTD offers these top 10 ways to celebrate workplace learning in organizations:

1. Display

posters in high-traffic areas showing training programs and results.

2. Make

a presentation to senior management about the positive impact of training.

3. Write

stories for your newsletter on job mentoring or cross-training opportunities.

4. Profile

employees who earn degrees or diplomas with support from the organization.

5. Share

the success of a department that has successfully piloted a new training program.

6. Organize

your own Learn@Work Week event — and don’t forget to tell CSTD about it.

7. Post

individual or department accomplishments on your organization’s intranet.

8. Publicize

awards for workplace learning programs and encourage submissions.

9. Promote

the importance of lifelong learning for both professional and personal development.

10. Attend

a CSTD Learn@Work Week event and share what you learn with your colleagues.

Calendar of events

For a list of CSTD events relating to Learn@Work, visit


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