As a learning strategist, Théo Dow works with apprentices who may need further supports to succeed during technical training or examinations. The most rewarding part of his job is seeing apprentices to meet their goals.
“Helping our clients overcome challenges to achieve their Red Seal certification is really cool. It’s a huge accomplishment and it opens a lot of opportunities for them,” says Dow.
Dow, who holds a Bachelor of Education degree, is one of two learning strategists at the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission (SATCC) that supports the Apprenticeship Success Enhancement Strategy (ASES). The SATCC developed ASES to improve pass rates and increase support for apprentices attempting to advance in their education.
ASES is based on three components: early intervention; the development of more customized learning plans; and training oversight, both on-the-job and technical training. This includes the development of a trade-specific learning strategy to increase apprentice success on the certification exam.
Dow is passionate about helping clients succeed. Together, he and the apprentice identify the biggest challenges and which types of supports might work best, such as working on exam anxiety, as well as study and note-taking skills.
In addition to his Bachelor of Education degree, the second learning strategist, Elvis Kambeitz, is also a Red Seal Carpenter. Having worked as an apprentice, Kambeitz has first-hand experience with both on-the-job training and technical training, which gives him a strong understanding of how to help clients.
“I have experienced the opportunities and challenges that are part of the apprenticeship journey,” says Kambeitz. “I understand the fast-paced nature of apprenticeship training, which better assists me when I develop a plan for balancing both school and daily life demands.”
So far, 218 apprentices have accessed learning strategist services, and 44 have successfully completed their Red Seal certification. The SATCC continues to expand the program and is looking to increase capacity to serve more apprentices.
Jolee Kambeitz, registered psychologist with the SATCC, is also part of the team. If an apprentice is identified as at risk for an underlying learning difficulty or learning disability, they are referred to her. She performs evaluations to determine accommodation needs, including psychoeducational evaluations to identify learning disabilities, ADHD, and other cognitive difficulties.
She also liaises with other licensed health-care professionals who work with apprentices to identify supports needed, as well as internal staff working directly with clients.
“I do an evaluation that pinpoints the underlying nature of the difficulties that they’re having so that we are able to provide appropriate supports for them,” she says. Those supports can include extra time on exams, a reader for exams, note-taking software, or alternative format textbooks.
Regular meetings and strong communication are key. When the team at SATCC better understands what’s going on, they can implement the supports and strategies that will be most helpful for the client. “We help apprentices understand that it’s not a problem of low intelligence. There’s a specific area of difficulty that they’re struggling with, and if they have supports in place, then they can achieve to their potential,” Kambeitz says.
While the ASES team provides learning strategies and supports for technical training, the majority of apprentices’ time is spent learning on the job. Employers and mentors play an essential role in the success of apprentices.
Common feedback from ASES clients centre around a desire to experience a full scope of the trade before attending technical training. Employers can help apprentices by providing structured mentorship, hands-on experience, and exposure to a variety of tasks.
Offering a clear training plan, regular constructive feedback, and opportunities for progression can ensure apprentices gain comprehensive skills. Additionally, allowing apprentices to work on diverse projects with journeypersons and encouraging collaboration with other experienced workers can contribute to a well-rounded training experience. Dow adds that ensuring the workplace is a welcoming and supportive environment enhances apprentices’ success. If employers recognize that an apprentice is struggling, they can refer them to Learning Services.
Kambeitz is grateful to be part of a team that helps apprentices overcome significant challenges.
“The positive effects from doing an assessment with a client are not limited to just school,” says Kambeitz. “A lot of times they’re life changing, like if somebody has undiagnosed ADHD their whole life and suddenly they’re getting treatment. It can totally change their life inside and outside of school, and at work.”