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Feature of the month | March 2011

The Northwest Territories Literacy Council has developed an interactive learning tool titled Essential Skills at Work in the North. Funded by the Government of Canada and the Northwest Territories Department of Education, Culture and Employment, the tool is designed to help northerners learn what it takes to succeed in various jobs.

By clicking various posters on a unique, online display board, visitors can learn information about each job that is outlined, the training and background required for each, and the skills needed to do the work successfully. The job profiles also include information about how essential skills are used in each position.

To view the learning tool, go to

The link for Essential Skills at Work in the North can also be found by first visiting the NWT Literacy Council’s website.

Northern jobs included in the tool are:

  • Trapper
  • Community health representative
  • Heavy equipment operator
  • Early childhood educator
  • Environmental monitor, and
  • Underground mine worker

Helen Balanoff, executive director of the Northwest Territories Literacy Council, says in creating the learning tool they tried to highlight occupations that were accessible to people in small communities.

“We also wanted to highlight training programs that people could access – at least as a starting point – in smaller communities. If they wanted to advance in the job, they would then have to move to a college campus for further training, but at least they could start at home,” Helen said.

“Given that we still have a mixed economy of traditional occupations and wage economy jobs (people often participate in both), we wanted to highlight a ‘northern’ occupation like trapping, where people often learn the skills from their families and not necessarily through a formal education program.”

Essential Skills at Work in the North was produced by Mike Kelly of Interactivist Learning Solutions, and editors were Helen Balanoff, Lisa Campbell and Mary McCreadie.

The learning tool has received great feedback, Helen says, and its developers are currently in the process of expanding the tool – with assistance from the same funders – to include four more occupations.

The learning tool has an accompanying study guide which is located in the NALD library. Aimed at both adult educators and adult learners, the guide offers learning activities for the stories featured in the online tool.


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