FREDERICTON (GNB) – A highly successful program designed in New Brunswick is expanding to most provinces and all territories.

The Virtual Learning Strategy (VLS) Program was developed in 2012 and targets apprentices who demonstrate challenges to success or have a previously diagnosed learning disability. It is provided at no cost to the learner.

“We are incredibly proud of this program that has made New Brunswick a leader in helping apprentices reach their goals and dreams while becoming certified in our skilled trades,” said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder. “This program has greatly contributed to the province’s success rates which are significantly higher than the national average. We are thrilled that the federal government has provided funding for us to expand our program for the benefit of apprentices in all provinces.”

In 2021-22 New Brunswick’s apprentices’ success rate on the Interprovincial Red Seal Exam was 76 per cent, compared to the national average of 56 per cent. The federal government has entered into an agreement with the province to provide these services until March 2026.

The program provides informal assessments to identify individual needs and implement interventions to address them directly. They include online tools to identify essential skills gaps or possible learning disabilities; one-on-one virtual meetings with clients to determine their learning styles, exam anxiety, individual factors affecting performance, such as deficits in study skills and motivational factors; and interventions to accommodate learning disabilities.

These informal assessments help learning strategists develop customized plans for each client. They can include direct support, or referrals for formal assessments.

New Brunswick had previously expanded the program to provide support to apprentices in five other jurisdictions: Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Yukon. While the program has now expanded to the entire country except Quebec, it continues to be owned and managed by the government of New Brunswick.

“The VLS program has been a valuable addition in Saskatchewan,” said Jeff Ritter, CEO, Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission. “Its resources provide apprentices with individualized support to help them succeed, and helps our organization identify possible undiagnosed learning disabilities earlier.”

The cost of running an expanded program over four-years is estimated at $18.5 million, with about $9.5 million covered by the federal government and the remainder from partnering jurisdictions and institutions.

More information about the service is available online.