AMDSB Centre for Employment and Learning offering PSW Certification

  • Business   Friday, February 11, 2022   Lisa Chester-Hanna

In answer to the need for more resources, a free PSW Certification program is being offered by the Avon Maitland District School Board Centre for Employment and Learning with paid on-the-job training in a co-op format.

Eligibility has been made even more accessible, a high school diploma is no longer a requirement and high school credits are earned as part of the program. This will make it attractive to senior students and interested members of the community alike.

The program runs from February 28 - December 16, 2022, and includes a combination of online (live) and in-person classes. Admission requirements state that applicants must be 18 years of age or older and be a resident of Ontario, have reliable transportation to be able to commute to lab and placement, be able to work mornings, afternoons, evenings and weekends at co-op placement as required and have reliable access to a computer and the internet. There is no registration fee, a savings of $1500 with available pay during the co-op component of up to $5115.

Co-op placement will be with Spruce Lodge in Stratford, followed by a community placement in a group home, adult day program, community health agency, respite care facility or an assisted living facility. Peter Bolland, administrator of Spruce Lodge is excited at the prospect of the program with AMDSB.

“We are really looking forward to it, as we hope the students are too. We’ve partnered with Conestoga College and Fanshawe in the past, both with great success, but with those programs you are bringing people in from out of town, and sometimes when they finished their placement they stay depending on whether they are local and sometimes they don’t, so with this program put on by a local school board we’re hopeful that we will be attracting some local talent. Having the additional hands on deck is always helpful, and seeing how the students perform on the job really helps with our recruitment process as well,” said Bolland.

Practical training will include all the equipment that PSW’s use on the job, and will mentor with experienced PSW’s. They will also be exposed to community support services like assisted living. 

“I think that will help students appreciate their career opportunities and will help the sector recruit for much needed staff,” explained Bolland.

The long term care sector has been challenged for resources for years, even before the pandemic struck. “It goes back that for decades the sector has relied on bringing in their own recruits from other types of settings and training them to become care providers. But the legislation has changed and the level of care, with people living longer and with the age wave that is now upon us, the level of care has been increasing exponentially over the years, and it does require a skilled workforce. So as much as we were training our own in the past, having the skilled PSW’s is extremely helpful.”

Every sector in healthcare, even school boards, are hiring PSW’s so the need has outpaced the supply. Programs such as what’s being offered through the AMDSB Centre for Employment and Learning will help, but not fast enough. The senior population is growing and the need is growing at a faster pace.

“What we need to do is improve the ratios of staff to residents so the staff aren’t run off their feet, and we need to recognize and value the contributions they are making to healthcare,” said Bolland.

There has been a lot of interest in the program to date. Spruce Lodge is expecting ten students and there will also be a class of ten in Huron County. It has been discovered there is a pent up need for such a program, and allows them to attract students that otherwise may not have qualified for a college program, which has proven to be a game changer in other jurisdictions, according to Bolland.

Career prospects for PSW’s are plentiful whether the desired setting is a Long Term Care Home, hospital, in-home care, or assisted living facility to name but a few choices. By bolstering the number of grads, it is hoped to alleviate the existing shortfalls and ultimately help reduce stress and burnout among the seasoned professionals. 

For more information, details on requirements and the registration process, visit