Decentralized HR training eases pandemic backlog

S1 Charleyne Oulton with her HRA achievement certificate.

S1 Charleyne Oulton with her HRA achievement certificate.

Peter Mallett
Staff Writer

A new blended learning training model is helping the Canadian Armed Forces address a shortfall of Human Resources Administrators (HRA).

It was implemented to alleviate the backlog of training for junior Human Resources Administrators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We launched the decentralized model and exported course programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the caps on the number of students safely permitted at CFLTC,” says WO Michael Beland, Training Manager of the Human Resources Cadre at CFLTC.

The first-ever decentralized courses took place over 55 days from Feb. 22 to May 21. Cohorts were implemented in CF Bases Halifax, Petawawa, and Toronto, with between 10 to 32 students participating at each location depending on health and safety protocols. Courses were delivered through a digital learning portal from Canadian Forces Logistics Training Centre at CFB Borden.

Regular and reserve force members are taught how to operate as HRAs at an introductory level at a base or unit environment.

The decentralized course is more intensive and delivers the training over 55 days instead of 90. Candidates learn the procedures for maintaining a personnel file, processing military pay, managing postings, disciplinary documentation, and casualty administration, initiating a claim, administering a member’s deployment, and how to write proper military correspondence.

After a preliminary trial run, a more permanent decentralized training model is now expanding to other bases. It uses a blended learning format that includes self-paced online learning with interactive activities and instructor-led content and exercises.

“By launching this instruction, we were able to ensure those newly enrolled HRAs received their required training in a timely manner and got them out to their units and bases where their support is greatly needed,” says WO Beland.

For the initial trial run, Halifax-based candidates were housed at Tribute Towers at CFB Stadacona and took their instruction at nearby Naval Reserve Unit HMCS Scotian. One of the participants was Esquimalt-based S1 Charleyne Oulton, a full-time reservist with HMCS Malahat.

She is employed in a long-term contract with Canadian Fleet Pacific working in the Fleet Orderly Room as an HR Administrator. Despite some early technical hiccups and adjustment to a virtual class learning environment, she rated the program and her participation a success while at the same time issuing a “Bravo Zulu” to her instructors and classmates.

“I am so grateful for the support myself and the other students received from HMCS Scotian and to our instructors and organizers of the course in all locations because our learning was a top priority,” she says.

S1 Oulton said leaving her home in Sooke and family life behind for an extended period was difficult, but the instruction has already proved extremely valuable. Now she says can perform daily processes including updating members personal information with no assistance, entering attach postings, leave passes and audits with ease.

WO Beland says he has received similar feedback from other participants. After its initial success, the program is now being delivered at CF Bases Gagetown, Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, and Edmonton and will involve 146 students including those housed at CFLTC.


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