​​Learning and development needs can be met in a variety of ways. When considering a learning and developmental initiative for an employee, the department considers the relationship between the initiative, specific individual needs, and organizational needs. The following describes some of the options for employee learning and development.

Self-directed learning projects

An employee is assigned to, or voluntarily undertakes, a specific project that promotes the expansion of skills and knowledge through self-directed learning or research and produces a final product that contributes to organizational objectives. Self-directed learning may also include self study and using the learning resources available to employees such as access to corporate memberships and the Alberta Government Library.

Educational assistance

An employee receives assistance to upgrade educational qualifications. The assistance may take the form of the following:

  • financial assistance, such as course subsidization
  • flexible hours or time off with pay to allow attendance at a course
  • a job sharing arrangement to allow the employee to work part-time and attend classes part-time
  • a leave of absence with or without pay where the person returns to the job on completion of the course of studies

Workshops, seminars, courses and conferences

Workshops, seminars, courses and conferences can provide employees with related information and skills and help to increase their competence. Some of these may take the form of technology-based training and distance learning.

Developmental assignments

A developmental assignment provides the employee with an alternative work experience. The alternative work experience can be set up either within a department, between departments, or with organizations outside the Alberta public service.

Assignments include job rotation, changing responsibilities in a current position, and secondment – see​ Sample Development Assignment – Letter of Understanding(PDF, 219 KB). For assignments outside the Alberta public service, departments can go through the Alberta Interchange program (see Alberta Interchange directive).

The following are factors when considering an employee for a developmental assignment:

  • purpose of the development initiative
  • position requirements
  • departmental human resources and workforce development plans
  • developmental need of the employee
  • factors unique to the department

When a development initiative involves movement to another position or department, the terms and conditions should be documented in a letter of understanding. The following may be included in a letter of understanding:

  • developmental objectives
  • employment status of the employee during and on completion of the initiative
  • duration of the initiative
  • title and responsibilities
  • reporting relationship
  • job result and learning expectations
  • treatment of performance excellence and progress review
  • classification, salary, and benefits treatment
  • relocation, travel, and job-related expenses
  • provision for any of the parties involved to discontinue


Coaching is an investment both in people and the organization. It is an effective way to bring out the best in people.

Within the Alberta public service, a coach is described as someone who guides and encourages others in developing their skills and competencies. A good coach is not someone who simply shows and tells someone how to do something. A good coach will challenge individuals to think about:

  • how to approach a task or project
  • what is working
  • what isn't working
  • why it is or isn't working
  • what is being learned
  • how to apply learning to become a more effective performer

About this directive

Effective Date: April 1, 2005
Contact: Alberta Public Service Commission:
Leadership and Talent Development; Learning and Development

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