Competencies are paving the way to entering the workforce

December 11, 2017 Caitlin Leishman

In today’s work environment, the importance of continuous learning is hard to miss. Being able to adapt and grow throughout your career is essential to becoming a valued member of the workforce, regardless of your profession or job level. One of our clients, ilinniapaa Skills Development Centre, decided to use competencies to make sure that anyone who wants to learn and join the workforce has the opportunity to do so.

ilinniapaa Skills Development Centre, located in Iqaluit, Nunavut, is a place where youth and adults of all abilities and aspirations can receive customized competency-based learning assessments, training, workplace preparation, and enhanced employment services for career success. ilinniapaa, pronounced [il-i-knee-a-pa] means “strive to learn” or “Hey! I’m learning!” in Inuktitut. In support of Inuit cultural values, ilinniapaa truly believes that everybody has a talent, role, and responsibility to use their strengths in the community.

Using competencies in education has been gaining momentum in recent years, and it is exciting to see it start to take hold in communities where these programs are truly needed. ilinniapaa’s focus is on improving indigenous communities within Canada through the delivery of a variety of work readiness and employment programs to help individuals with career and skills development. A problem that ilinniapaa has often seen is that organizations will hire simply because of a base quota or requirement to hire Indigenous peoples. Although there is a need to hire Indigenous peoples, unfortunately the required competencies and education are often lacking.

To combat this, ilinniapaa also delivers programming and services that support people with disabilities; one of their main goals is in giving individuals in these programs a better understanding of why they’re experiencing barriers in entering the workforce. There are nine transferrable skills that are essential to any modern workplace that are recognized as the national standard in Canada. They are: Reading, Document Use, Numeracy, Writing, Oral Communication, Working with Others, Thinking, Computer Use, and Continuous Learning. Everyone uses these skills in the workplace to varying degrees, and they are necessary if you want to grow in your career or develop new skills later. Because many of the employment barriers facing ilinniapaa’s target demographic are related to these basic employment skills, Ilinniapaa worked with the HRSG team to create a competency-based assessment focused around them. Their goal was to help reduce illiteracy rates, and provide a resource for people entering the workplace, and those wishing to improve their career prospects.

By using competency-based assessments, ilinniapaa was able to create dynamic assessments aligned to specific job requirements. Competency-based assessments are also very adaptable, a useful quality when you need to alter job profiles to reflect specific organizational requirements. Instead of dealing with the intangible hiring expectations that some organizations have, those who take competency-based assessments can experience a more level playing field. Hiring becomes more objective, and managers are able to see any potential shortcomings and give actionable feedback for improvement. Overall, by using competencies for assessment purposes, organizations are able to better advocate for and achieve success for the organization and the individual.

Do you want to achieve excellence through competency-based talent management? Click here to read the full ilinniapaa case study. To discuss your competency initiative call us at 1-866-574-7041 or email

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Paving the way for Indigenous employment with competencies
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