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  • 31 July 2020 10:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    At the July 22nd Virtual Members Meeting, we discussed the current employment conditions within each service provider's community. It was confirmed there what I had been hearing individually, some jobs are going unclaimed. Those without impediments such has health or daycare issues would like to collect the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) rather than seek employment. The question then is, how do we create a compelling enough value proposition to encourage people to find work or to request services and training for future work? ASPECT members expect that once the CERB is removed or changed, there may be an influx of people needing assistance. 

    At this morning's press briefing, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that changes are indeed coming. 

    1. The government is working on a plan to transition those collecting the CERB to the employment insurance program.
    2. Those who do not qualify for EI would be able to access a program that is in development.
    3. The overall plan is to re-engineer the EI program to meet "21st century needs" without increasing EI premiums. 
     

    In the meantime, we have taken the ideas from our members to create an infographic and social media posts. These are for you to use to spread the message that it is an excellent time to find work, change careers, and access services and support. Please feel free to use the information as you see fit. 

    We are also working on a list of value propositions for employers to use this time to hire. Thanks to all the ASPECT members who provided the content for these documents and for Kim Lauritsen at Community Futures North Okanagan and her helper for making sure the information contained within is correct.

    Go to our website to download this infographic as well as the individual social media posts.

    Janet Morris-Reade
    ASPECT BC CEO



  • 24 July 2020 12:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I am excited to announce that the Call for Speakers and Presenters is now out for the upcoming ASPECT BC Conference on November 5 & 6, 2020.  This is our 30th year of offering the conference and also the 30th anniversary of the formation of ASPECT!

    As you all know, converting to a virtual format takes many considerations and I am confident we have a plan for our conference that will meet the needs of the sector. Also, we are working hard to find professional development opportunities for all who work within our member organizations and the sector at large, i.e., the ASPECT conference is not just for organizational leaders.

    Unlike several other organizations that are spreading their conferences over several days, we have decided to keep the dates that we had for the in-person conference. We have scheduled 30-minute breaks between each session and will use gamification during the event to keep you occupied if you choose to be. If you have to step away from a session, we will also provide recordings afterward. We are encouraging our presenters to use interactive elements such as polling, games, and discussion groups to keep you involved. Also, there will be no expectation to turn your video cameras on, so you can take a break from being "on" all the time. I might suggest that this virtual format might even be less exhausting as the in-person one.

    Below is a copy of the proposed schedule that will provide you with four keynote speakers and up to 24 sessions to choose from. Some speakers are already confirmed, but once the call for speakers and presenters is closed, we'll have a better idea of what will be offered. Be rest assured that we will endeavour to give you the highest quality presentations.  

    The pandemic is giving us the opportunity to use this time to learn and to collaborate while inviting speakers from the world to participate. I hope to see your presenter applications, and when registration opens later this summer, your conference registration, too.

    Janet Morris-Reade
    ASPECT BC CEO


  • 17 July 2020 8:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This week's CEO report comes to you from Creston after visiting ASPECT members in Penticton, Grand Forks, Trail, and Nelson. Thanks to all of you who took the time to talk to me about your COVID pivot toward delivering employment services in new ways. Again, I am astounded at the ingenuity and innovation of the sector that has not only responded to the needs of their community but also meeting the needs of their staff. This crisis has pushed us all to find new imaginative ways to take care of each other.

    The pandemic also allowed ASPECT to participate in a call with Premier Horgan and Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, Honorable Shane Simpson. (Thanks again to Morag Carter at Community Skills Centre in Trail for allowing me to finish the call in their boardroom.) The Premier is consulting with stakeholder groups for advice on how to "Build[ing] BC's Recovery, Together"

    The group (above image) was made up mostly of provincial non-profit social service umbrella organizations. We were given three questions to discuss:

    1. What are some initiatives government can take to address the disproportionate impact on women, youth, Indigenous communities and people from marginalized backgrounds?
    2. In your opinion, what could be the impact of a long-term recovery on the future of work? Economic growth? And the make-up and diversity of BC's economy?
    3. Our economic recovery must be guided by continued commitments to Clean BC, Truth and Reconciliation, addressing inequity, and increasing affordability for all British Columbians. What do you see as the biggest opportunity to recommit to these principles? What is the biggest threat?

    After praising the sector for its quick response to COVID-19 conditions and the generous action of service providers to reach out and serve clients and employers, ASPECT advocated for more support for childcare, connectivity, and access to technology. We also supported the discussion around tax supports to encourage charitable giving, stabilization supports for community service organizations, and living wages and sick leave for staff.

    The public is asked to take part in a short survey to provide your feedback and ideas. BC's community-based employment service providers are perfectly positioned to provide valuable direction. Employment service providers are working with those looking for work and training for the new job market, and are a crucial resource for employers. All, at the same time, seeing the cracks in our social network that have become more significant through the pandemic. I encourage you to participate: the survey will remain open until 4pm on July 22.

     

    Janet Morris-Reade
    ASPECT CEO

  • 10 July 2020 1:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    The Labour Market Survey results were released today, telling us what we already know except with actual numbers attached. We have seen first-hand how quickly the job landscape is changing. The current unemployment rate is 12.3%, which is up from 13.7% in May. Looking back to February, it was 5.6%.

    According to my contacts in the provincial government, we should be hearing updated labour market information within the next week. At the recent Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training contractor roundtables, we were able to get a quick snippet of information in the graph below from Vicinity Jobs Inc. 

    The recovery shown by these two graphs is encouraging. Also encouraging is that employers are turning to ASPECT members for help, and taking advantage of programs such as wage subsidies when they might not have engaged before the pandemic. We've also heard from our member discussions that some are experiencing success in cold-calling employers to promote their services. Full recovery is a long way off, but it is great to see some light after such a dark period. The ingenuity and pivoting of ASPECT members to thrive in this environment still astounds me! 


    Next week, I will be hitting the road and visiting our members in Penticton, Grand Forks, Trail, Nelson, and Creston.  Such a different member tour from four years ago where I flew places and rented cars. This time will be a full-on road adventure with social distancing, a Spotify playlist, and my youngest daughter practicing her driving. 

    Janet Morris-Reade
    ASPECT CEO

  • 12 June 2020 11:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    At this week's member discussion, we talked about the challenge that employers are facing to fill their current job openings as they compete with workers' alternative to stay at home. Safety and access to safe and affordable childcare appear to be the biggest hurdle for those who are hesitant to go back to work, regardless of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payments. There is some talk that the CERB could be extended.

    During our discussion, members shared how they are helping employers navigate these challenging labour market conditions. Some are involved in their community's "shop local" initiatives, some are helping employers to address job seeker concerns about safety in job postings, some are promoting wage subsidy programs, and some using community stations to advertise available job postings in addition to using social media. The problem remains, however, that while the obstacles to activating the local workforce are in effect, local employers may continue to have difficulty filling positions. 

    Crowdsourcing a Solution

    ASPECT members are the experts in their communities and have connections to the entire landscape of the local labour market. This is your opportunity to put your policy development hat on and brainstorm ideas to tweak policy so that we can get workers taking advantage of the opportunities available. At one of our previous member discussions, someone mentioned a question that they would expect to hear from interviewers in the future, "what did you do during the pandemic?" It would be nice if job seekers had a good response.

    If you have a brilliant "silver-bullet" idea or even just some nudges to an existing policy that would help the current situation, please send it to me. This is a difficult problem, but I'm confident that the wisdom of the ASPECT crowd will prevail!

    Janet Morris-Reade
    ASPECT CEO
  • 05 June 2020 1:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The pandemic continues to focus the magnifying glass on social inequities that exist in our society, especially one of racism. As I watch the protests and question my part in contributing to the current climate, I have looked to those within our own ASPECT community for their insight and leadership. Here is a small sampling:

    Racism, prejudice, and inequality have been issues for members as they support those looking for work. It is difficult to build a client's confidence in their upskilling and job search when the society around them continues to tolerate discrimination. ASPECT has taken the pledge for diversity, which is a call to action from BC’s Governor-General, Janet Austin.

    A pledge is not enough. As an organization, we will do our part in supporting our members to continue to do the work they are already doing within their communities. We saw a mind-shift happen through the #metoo movement and I'm hopeful that the protests happening now will do the same for a better understanding and empathy of racism in BC.

    Click on the pledge image to see a video message from Honourable Janet Austin.

    Janet Morris-Reade
    ASPECT CEO
  • 02 June 2020 1:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This past Tuesday, ASPECT presented to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services via Zoom. This is a public process open to anyone in BC and informs the creation of the 2021 BC Budget.

    Our presentation focuses on 3 recommendations:
    1. Further investment in province-wide tech connectivity
    2. Investment in providing technology and tech training to BC's most vulnerable
    3. Further investment in daycare
    Click here to read the ASPECT BC presentation.

    On Thursday, ASPECT attended a virtual meeting with 80 other non-profit organizations throughout the province to discuss our requests and how we can collaborate to present a united front to the government. It was an interesting conversation with some good ideas shared. More info on this initiative to follow.

    To sign up to present or to submit your own recommendations, go to the Committee website.
  • 29 May 2020 11:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This week, I have attended several webinars that provide information about surviving the COVID-19 crisis and what the world of work will look like in the coming months and years. Each webinar had advice on how to plan for the future in an unpredictable environment. I was reminded of an article I read called Six Mistakes Executives Make in Risk Management published in 2008 by the Harvard Business Review, written by Nassim Taleb, Daniel Goldstein, and Mark Spitznagel. In it, the authors talk about Black Swan events, which are impossible to predict and how we, as leaders, are making big decisions based on common misconceptions of risk.

    I have, as I’m sure you have as well, noticed the strengths and weaknesses of our leaders throughout this crisis, both politically and within our organizations. It made me realize that leadership is not about knowing how to calculate risk and a cash flow projection, but about doing the right thing and feeling confident with those decisions.

     This very long preamble is my way of promoting our Values Based Leadership series starting this September and will be taught by Drs. Roberta Neault and Deirdre Pickerell. In it, existing and emergent leaders will learn how to build their learning and confidence to make the tough decisions that lie ahead, while at the same time leading by doing the right thing for yourself and your community.

    ASPECT has developed this credentialed online course in response to demand from the social service sector. We have invested in it to offer high value learning for a fraction of the cost compared to other leadership courses. Each class starts at $150 for ASPECT members (slightly more for non-members) per week-long course, which includes online discussions, a live tutorial, and reflective learning supports. Further, these courses qualify for the BC Employer Training Grant – the intake for fall courses opens June 1 (Monday). 
     
    If you are a leader within your organization with skills gaps or would like to see more leaders helping you navigate this pandemic world, I encourage you to sign up. As we progress through this Black Swan event we find ourselves in; it is now an excellent time to take advantage of government grants and upskill yourself and your workforce. 

    Janet Morris-Reade
    ASPECT CEO
  • 22 May 2020 12:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    There's a lot going on right now in the advocacy world. One thing that may not be on your radar is the BC Budget 2021 Consultations undertaken by the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services. This is an excellent opportunity to draw attention to an unfunded or underfunded initiative that you have in your area of service.

    At ASPECT, when we present to the committee we try to address global issues that affect the barriers to employment. In my first submission four years ago, the barriers to employment are and still remain, supports for mental health and addictions, transportation, housing, and child care. We now have programs that are rolling out from the provincial government to support these areas with longer-term strategies in place.

    The COVID-19 crisis is presenting more urgent challenges to employment as well as its services and supports. We have a new list of requests to the Finance Committee:
    • Aggressive investment in connectivity throughout the province.
    • More investment in early childhood education and child care.
    • Investment in tech availability and tech training for those most vulnerable.
    The world of work looks quite different these days, and as we are seeing in some of the news stories posted below, significant long-term shifts being made to the work environment. There is a serious concern, however, that those most vulnerable are being further left behind. Not only is it our responsibility to speak on their behalf but also to speak for all workers as we do our part as employment service providers to re-ignite the provincial economy. 

    Have your say by presenting to the committee by registering online. If you are not able to present or provide a submission, never worry because ASPECT has your back.

    Janet Morris-Reade
    ASPECT CEO
  • 15 May 2020 11:53 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As we prepare for the phase 2 of Premier Horgan's Restart BC plan announced on May 6, ASPECT has been working with the Social Services Sector Roundtable (SSSR) reference group to inform next steps for our sector. The government has submitted a draft plan with input from the SSSR. WorkBC has been tasked with creating a more specific plan for our sector, which is great if you are a WorkBC contractor but not great if you are not. We still have work to do there.

    Although I do not have permission to share the SSSR plan, I can share some general information:
    • The Social Sector plan covers K-12 Education, public libraries, child care services, non-residential community-based social services, housing and shelter services, and residential services.
    • The assumptions on which the plan is based recognizes the current challenges as well as acknowledging challenges to the sector had before the crisis.
    • Like the premier's plan, this plan has four stages of recovery and three priority levels, with the safety of those offering essential services being a foundational focus.
    • The plan acknowledges that recovery is a highly complex challenge with an interdependence between client service populations, overlapping services, and funder demands. The intention of the plan is to put the needs of the clients being served before all others.
    Our weekly ASPECT member discussions have been helpful in informing me, and through ASPECT's work, informing government. If you are not able to make it to the weekly meetings, please email me with your thoughts and concerns. The more we know, the more we can help and advocate on your behalf.

    Understanding the Information Available

    At our last member discussion, many on the call shared their plans for expanding in-person services. I am in the process of lining up a WorkSafe BC expert and a virologist to help answer questions for our next meeting on Wednesday at 1pm. In my discussions so far, all questions have been referred to WCB, however, from the conversations I have had so far, they are challenged with the demands. Go to their website for available information.

    Developing a Plan & Checklist

    I love a good checklist and I found this one from the Canadian Association of Independent Businesses. I share it with you here with the warning that sector start ups will differ from each other. The link goes to a Word document that you can open and adjust for your organization: https://www.cfib-fcei.ca/sites/default/files/2020-05/british-columbia-pandemic-operational-plan-template.docx

    Janet Morris-Reade
    ASPECT CEO
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