Investing in employee development through SkillsonlineNS

Investing in employee development through SkillsonlineNS

Acadian Seaplants is a growing Nova Scotian company with global reach. The company currently has production facilities in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ireland and Scotland and has employees in 12 countries developing, manufacturing and selling marine plant-based products around the world.

One of the ways Acadian Seaplants continues to grow is through developing its workforce, and accessing Government of Nova Scotia funding programs and solutions to help build strength at home to compete globally.

One solution is SkillsonlineNS.  This program offers a library filled with thousands of on-line courses in hundreds of topics, all available to Nova Scotians and Nova Scotian businesses at no cost.

Candice Piercey, Manager of Training and Development at Acadian Seaplants said that her company has used SkillsonlineNS in various ways, including integrating the program into the company’s “Smart Goals” system.  Each year, as part of the Performance Review process, employees work with their managers and department heads to design individual and collaborative goals.

“Often our employees will have a training component associated with their goals. SkillsonlineNS is the first stop when sourcing training opportunities that tie into the employees’ professional development and the company’s strategic growth goals.”

“Employees, with their manager, identify any development or growth opportunities, then they are able to look at the catalogue and select specific courses to meet those needs.

“It’s a great platform to offer a wide variety of courses and content to our employees,” Piercey said, adding that the employees enjoy the fact that they can access the courses from home, from a home office, or at work.

Piercey said employees in the production facilities, sales and management have all taken training through SkillsonlineNS.

For instance, Susan Murphy, Cultivation Harvest & Sanitation Supervisor at Acadian Seaplants’ facility in Charlesville, Shelburne County has already taken courses in leadership and communication.  Next, she plans to take courses in how to trim waste, cut costs and improve quality in the future.

Murphy said she usually has two or three courses on the go. “I’m always learning something new,” she said. “It’s helpful in my position. I do not believe that we should ever stop learning.”

“SkillsonlineNS is very user-friendly,” she said. “I like the idea that if I start a course and then get interrupted, I can pause it and pick it up where I left off without having to go back to the beginning.”

Murphy also oversees a crew of 16 production employees.  She encourages them every day to take the online training offered through SkillsonlineNS. “It’s a great way to learn and a great way to continue learning,” she said.  “There’s lots to choose from and something for everyone. Learn something new every day, that’s what I tell my crew.”

Mike Shouldice, Market Development Manager at Acadian Seaplants’ head office in Burnside is currently taking Finance for Non-Financial Professionals, and in the past, he has taken a series of Excel courses. “I like that it’s something that I can do at my own pace,” he said.  He often pauses a program, tries a couple of things he has learned using his own data to see how it works, and then goes back to the course.  As a salesman traveling the world, Shouldice also likes the fact that he can continue his coursework wherever he goes.

Shouldice also has two direct reports and he has assigned courses to them using Acadian Seaplants’ own private learning network, which is also provided free of charge through the SkillsonlineNS program.

To date 70 Acadian Seaplants employees and leaders are enrolled in SkillsonlineNS, and more than 240 courses have been taken. “The SkillsonlineNS library is huge and they’re consistently adding or updating courses to their catalogue. Even if an employee took a course three years ago, they could probably benefit from taking it again as a refresher,” Piercey said.

While Piercey doesn’t have concrete figures, she said the savings that SkillsonlineNS has provided Acadian Seaplants by offering free training is significant. But more than the cost-saving is the opportunity to offer an employee development program in a company that has employees all over the world. The accessibility and wide range of content is invaluable.

“The overall impact of having this program available to us is the fact that our employees know that we’re committed to investing in their development.”