Course Exam—EDUC 210

The Canadian Training System

EDUC 210 (The Canadian Training System) is a three-credit, junior-level introduction to the Canadian labour-market training system.  Labour-market training comprises policies, programs, and activities intended to result in an adequate number of appropriately trained workers.  In Canada, the labour-market training system has four main components: postsecondary education, government labour-market policy, employer workplace training, and community education.  There are no prerequisites for this course and it has a Challenge for Credit option if students are interested.

The Canadian Training System is made up of six units, which include three telephone quizzes worth ten percent each, two written assignments weighing twenty-five percent each, and a final examination worth twenty percent.  This course covers several interesting topics surrounding the Canadian labour-market training system, such as an introduction to Canada’s Training System, Postsecondary Education and Apprenticeship Training, Labour-Market Training Policy in Canada, Workplace Training and Learning, and Community-Based Education and Training for Teaching and Learning.  To pass the course, students must have an overall grade of at least fifty percent and a grade of at least fifty percent on the final exam.  The final examination for this course must be taken online with an Athabasca University-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation center.

The writer of EDUC 210, Dr. Bob Barnetson, has been with Athabasca University for fifteen years (he started tutoring in 2004 and became a professor in 2011).  He coordinates IDRL 309/LGST 310 (Human Rights, the Charter and Labour Relations), ORGB 386/HRMT 386 (Introduction to Human Resource Management), HRMT 316/EDUC 316 (Program Planning and Methods in Adult Learning), HRMT 406/EDUC 406 (Work and Learning), and EDUC 318.

The course co-ordinator, Dr. Ingo Schmidt, started as an academic coordinator for the labour studies program in 2007.  He coordinates HIST 336 (History of Canadian Labour), IDRL 496 (Comparative Labour Education), LBST 200/LBST 202 (Introduction to Labour Studies), LBST 330 (Workers and the Economy), LBST 332 (Women and Unions), LBST 335 (Global Labour History), SOCI 321 (Sociology of Work and Industry in Canada), MAIS 514 (Theory and Practice of Trade Unions), and MAIS 650 (Canadian and International Labour Education).

For this interview, both Dr. Barnetson and Dr.  Schmidt have collaborated on their responses.

Dr.  Barnetson “is a professor of labour relations at Athabasca University.  His main area of research is the political economy of employment, with specific interests in workplace injury and child farm and migrant workers.  He lives in Edmonton and his most recent book is Canada’s Labour Market Training System (which is the course textbook).”

Dr. Schmidt says that he is an”assistant professor of labour studies at Athabasca University.  I guess I’m an activist-academic, meaning that I am a long-term activist in labour and international solidarity movements but have also done academic work on unions.  I got my Masters and PhD degrees in economics in Germany, worked as staff economist with the metal workers union IG Metall before moving to Canada in 2005 where I had my first job at the econ-department at UNBC in Prince George.”

In describing the course, they note that “There is often talk about shortages of skilled workers and how Canada does a poor job of training new workers.  The course interrogates this critique and examines post-secondary education and apprenticeships, labour-market and immigration policy, workplace training and community-based education.  At the end, students have a good understanding of not just how the labour-market training system operates, but why it operates that way.”

They also provide some insight into the structure of the course, stating “The course includes three telephone quizzes.  Students know the list of questions that can be asked during the quiz ahead of time.  The course also includes two short essay assignments and a final exam.”

As for what type of work ethic student will have to have to be successful in this course, they explain “This is an introductory course so it is not particularly difficult.  The course slowly introduces students to the information and skills they need to master to complete the assignments.  The course does require students take an active role in their learning (it is not just reading and remembering).” They provide some advice as well, “Develop a plan about how you will complete the course with clear deadlines.  This will ensure you remain on track as you work through the materials.”

When I asked Dr. Barnetson and Dr. Schmidt what they believe students will take away from EDUC 210, they explain “This course provides the big picture of labour-market training in Canada.  At the end, students will have a sense of both how Canada’s labour market system operates and why it operates that way.  More specifically, they will understand labour-market training not just as a technical undertaking but as a political arena where different groups (e.g., workers, employers, governments, training providers) seek to advance their own interests.”

As for which aspects of the course do students find most difficult and struggle with most, they state “The course is new so that is hard to say.  I suspect that most challenging part for students is grappling with the idea that education is a political activity, rather than a neutral one.  For example, there is often a hidden curriculum in training.  A hidden curriculum is not a secret curriculum, but rather is a set of expectations and norms that are so taken for granted that they become invisible.  For example, the K-12 system teaches us to show up on time and do what we are told through a system of rules, rewards, and punishments.  Most people internalize these rules and carry them with them into their jobs.  This process of acculturation benefits employers, who desire reliable and compliant workers.  Yet we almost never talk about this process or who it benefits.”

Whether EDUC 210 is a degree or program requirement of yours, or the topics that were discussed above are of interest to you, this course will have you learning interesting material surrounding the Canadian labour-market training system.