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  • December 01, 2023 11:15 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It seems like a convergence of labour market information has landed in our laps over the past few weeks, giving us some idea of what is ahead for the sector.
    Last Monday, I attended the BC Labour Market Report's Year in Review, presented by Christian St. Cyr. In this day-long webinar, Christian breaks down all the latest labour market information, government announcements, legislation, and labour market research from the past year into an informative and entertaining day. I'm always impressed with his ability to parse the various data and provide a compelling perspective.
    Late last week, the government of BC released its BC Labour Market Outlook: 2023 Edition, which I think is always a fantastic feat by the public service in the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills. Although slightly down from last year's projections, we can expect 998,000 job openings in the next ten years. Below is a graphic from page 10 of the report that shows how the numbers make sense. I would encourage you to examine the report closely, but know that you are already doing that. Kudos to our government friends for another outstanding publication.

    Something else announced last week that you might have missed is the Provincial Data Plan: Better Data, Better BC. In it, the goal is to map "an all-of-government approach…to advance equity, support reconciliation, increase evidence-based decision making, deliver the modern services people need, and strengthen data competency and governance" (quoted from the website). Those in our sector know first-hand some of the gaps that emerge in data collection and how quickly those gaps can be a challenge when delivering services to those within their communities. I am hopeful that with the new data plan, the government will look closer at what data is needed to make decisions rather than take a shot-gun approach to collection.
    This reminded me of the Prime project through the Canadian Career Development Foundation, in which they determined, in partnership with career development professionals, what outcomes in career development services are most important to measure. The project report from March 2021 ends with a section called "The Final Tale of Transformation: The Art of What's Possible," where they conclude that the Canadian public employment ecosystem faces systemic challenges, including inadequate assessment of clients' diverse strengths and needs, limited and insufficient metrics for reporting, a lack of comprehensive data for strategic planning among others.
    All the information gathered helps us better understand workforce development's present and future and how employment service providers can support their communities. As AI becomes more prevalent and the labour market's supply and demand shift, service providers are perfectly positioned to address gaps and showcase potential opportunities. I believe that ASPECT members are capable of adjusting to the changing needs of their communities. You are in a great position to recognize emerging trends and share your knowledge with those who can benefit from it.

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO

  • November 23, 2023 6:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This week, I attended the Career Education Society Conference in Vancouver, and once again, it was a fabulous event. I am pictured at right with Jessi Zielke, CES’s Executive Director. The Career Education Society represents career educators from kindergarten to grade 12. ASPECT's presence at the conference is crucial for understanding the full workforce development spectrum to inform our advocacy work. We maintain a friendly relationship with CES and the BC Career Development Association, sharing our associations' activities, reciprocal memberships and open communication, looking for ways to support each other. Thanks to Jessi for hosting me at the CES conference this year, and kudos to her board and team for an excellent event.

    At the conference, I attended two sessions presented by the Ministry of Education and Child Care. One was about the dual credit (high school – post-secondary) program and some of the policy changes they are making to remove barriers for students. The second was an overview of the government's StrongerBC Future-Ready Action Plan: K-12 Career Connections. I was delighted by the conference delegates asking pointed questions about how the programs worked and suggesting improvements. The government presenters were receptive and genuinely welcomed the feedback.
    I also attended a fascinating session about artificial intelligence and the future of the labour market. It was surprising that the employer representatives on the panel admitted that they were surprised by the speed at which AI is being applied to the workforce and a little flummoxed by what to expect in the coming two years. We've heard the claim that many of the future jobs have not been invented yet, but hearing business leaders talk about it made an impact on me.
    One job that created an interesting conversation was the need for content creators for social media, a job with the potential for significant growth. As someone who entered the workforce in the 80s, I am regularly shocked and intrigued by how quickly the labour market is changing. The race to apply AI tech to new positions makes community-based employability trainers a crucial part of preparing the provincial population for the new workforce. Post-secondary institutions do a good job, but no one moves as quickly to respond to labour market needs as community employability trainers, filling the gaps from one step to another. I hope funders and politicians do not forget how to rely on our sector to keep things moving toward the future and avoid thinking that AI and technology will solve all the workforce and economic challenges ahead. Not everyone has the skills, competencies, and resilience needed to thrive in future work, and that's how our sector helps.

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO
  • November 10, 2023 11:15 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This week is Community Employment Service Providers Week, which the Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, Honourable Sheila Malcolmson, announced at the ASPECT conference. The Royal Proclamation marks the first week of November as a recognition of community employment service providers.

    On our social media channels this week, ASPECT celebrated member organizations doing some exciting work around the province. Here are just a few of them:

    • We shared the Skills Centre's good news. The Centre has recently gained approval for a new federal program, and their new programs focus on emerging technology, remote work, reducing working poverty, supporting mental health, and future-proofing the workforce.

    Congratulations and kudos to the North Island Employment Foundations Society, which showcased its team members in short videos posted on social media. We loved hearing first-hand about specialized employment counsellors' work to address specific needs in their communities, such as catering to people with disabilities and diverse backgrounds. Check it all out for yourself on social media with #HumansofEmployment.

    We are raising your profile through Community Employment Service Providers Week and encouraging members to use the #HumansofEmployment hashtag in all their social media posts. These activities are part of a larger plan to get our sector in front of the politicians and the public as we head into an election year.

    We want everyone to know how your work makes a difference. ASPECT will soon hire "community reporters" throughout the province to showcase our sector's hidden gems and success stories. Stay tuned for more information!

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO

  • November 03, 2023 3:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I am writing this in the car in front of the conference hotel. We have just wrapped up the 33rd annual ASPECT conference.

    This morning, the Honourable Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, unveiled this morning BC’s very first Community Employment Service Providers Week. Yes, you read it right. We now have a week dedicated to our sector, a moment to celebrate the invaluable contributions of those who empower people in BC to secure meaningful employment and build brighter futures.
    It states in the government proclamation:

    Thousands of British Columbians reach their employment potential thanks to the support of community-based employment service providers and their significant efforts in employment services and workforce development.

    We couldn’t agree more.  
    Starting Monday, November 6 and ending on Friday, November 10, this year’s first edition of the new Community Employment Service Providers Week will be a celebration of the dedicated professionals who help job seekers find their paths to success.
    Throughout the week, we will be showcasing people who deliver community-based employment services in BC. Join us in celebrating the inaugural Community Employment Service Providers Week and help us create a movement by sharing your success stories on social media and tagging your posts with #HumansofEmployment! 
    Other exciting news took place this week. BC's new salary transparency law kicked in on November 1st. All publicly posted jobs in BC must now display a clear salary range with a minimum and a maximum amount. This will be a game-changer for addressing BC's gender pay gap which is currently at 17%; the largest in the country.

    The Pay Transparency Act also prohibits employers from asking interviewees about their salary at previous positions. This will be good for newcomers to Canada, who may have worked for a lower salary in their previous countries where the cost of living does not compare.
    Salary information going from a taboo topic to something that’s out in the open, now that's also something to celebrate. 

    Such progress as seen recently in our sector makes me hopeful for the future. We have achieved much, and ASPECT will continue to work hard in representing, serving, and advocating on behalf of you.

    Cheers to us, we deserve it!

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO

  • October 27, 2023 12:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On Monday, I had the opportunity to attend in person the announcement of the new fair credential recognition legislation at the BC Legislature's Hall of Honour. Premier David Eby and the Minister of State for Workforce Development, the Honourable Andrew Mercier, made the announcement with speeches from Shelly D'Mello (photo at right) from the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria and Alice Wong, a newly credentialled social worker from Hong Kong.

    The legislation is intended to remove barriers to internationally trained professionals impacting 29 credentialling bodies. Here's a link to the news release and my blog post in a previous edition of Aspectives. I can also tell you that ASPECT, along with some of our members, were allowed to preview the legislation. I see that much work and interest-holder consultation went into developing this legislation within an alarmingly quick time frame. Kudos to my public service colleagues and the provincial government for your hard work and dedication to addressing this social justice issue.

    Here are a few of my takeaways from the event:

    • It was interesting to see beyond what makes the news, and I was impressed with the inclusive and multilingual aspects of the announcement. Alice Wong made an outstanding speech about her experiences in both English and Cantonese. Minister of Education and Child Care, Honourable Rachna Singh, answered media questions in what I think was Hindi.
    • During the Q&A session, the media quickly asked many pointed questions about everything but the legislation. Both the Premier and Ministers did outstanding jobs answering them – not ducking them or deflecting them – but answering them.
    • The announcement was quite clearly a celebration, and it genuinely felt like a celebration, especially for those in the room. 

    What I also find impressive is the rapid timeline for the legislation: 

    Source: BC Government website


    One last comment that I want to make clear. ASPECT, in its advocacy work, endeavours to be apolitical in all matters. We will gladly work with any party on any issue related to the work of our members. I am acutely aware that this post can seem pro-NDP, but it is not. It is more about the government's action to address a long-term wicked problem that needs attention. The legislation has so many challenges ahead and opportunities for failure if it is not embraced by the credentialling bodies, but still, at this moment, I am happy to give credit where I think it's due.


    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO

  • October 20, 2023 10:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As many of you know, this week was Small Business Week. I had the opportunity to attend an excellent webinar presented by the BC Chamber of Commerce. I am not ashamed to admit that I am an early adopter of new technologies, but with a healthy dose of distrust and skepticism. This webinar had a perfect balance of both.

    Above is a screenshot of one of the slides from the webinar that had me startled, where one presenter, Dr. Andrew Gemino, shows the results of a Goldman Sachs study of the professions most likely to be disrupted by AI. To my shock, Social Services placed sixth with the probability of 33% to impact jobs. I hate to propagate the results of a study from a non-academic source, but even if it is partially true, it’s startling. If you are interested in AI and this webinar, you can access it here.

    The disruption to services we saw during the pandemic is something ASPECT studied through our Competency of Career Development Practitioners for Virtual Services project published last year. The quick rise of ChatGPT since its release on November 30, 2022, and the AI tools developed since could have serious repercussions for career development services. Likely, you already know this in your practice.

    Thinking about what the future might hold makes my brain hurt. That’s why when I saw that the “Brain Guy,” Terry Small, offered a session called Thinking for a Change - Preparing Your Mind & Brain for Disruption & Uncertainty, I jumped to invite him to speak at the ASPECT Conference. We welcomed Terry in 2020 to our virtual conference, but he comes alive in a large room as he walks through the audience. For those unable to attend the conference, we will share the presentation slides and information after the event on our website.

    It feels like the AI theme is emerging everywhere in my life, and yesterday, I stumbled upon a social media post from our friends at EngagedHR. They posted a video from the Disrupt HR Victoria conference yesterday, where AI created and presented a presentation with some human help. Click here for the video link. As much as I’m an early adopter of such new technologies, I feel like I’ve gone down a rabbit hole. Rest assured, as I learn new things that could disrupt employment services, I will share them with you all. It is an exciting time but also a time to exercise skepticism.

    Full disclosure, I used to check my spelling and grammar and used ChatGPT to check if this report makes sense.

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO

  • October 12, 2023 2:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Last Wednesday, I had the privilege of attending an International Credential Recognition town hall meeting, hosted by BC Premier David Eby and Minister of State for Workforce Development, Honourable Andrew Mercier. This was the event I had previously mentioned in last week's Aspectives newsletter. It was heartening to see a significant turnout of ASPECT members and association colleagues at the event.

    Amidst a wealth of valuable information, thought-provoking questions, and compelling testimonials from internationally credentialed speakers, I'd like to share three noteworthy highlights:

    1. In the coming month, we can expect new legislation aimed at dismantling unnecessary obstacles that hinder newcomers from pursuing their chosen professions. The government has recognized this as a matter of social justice and is working diligently to address these issues. They have initiated collaboration with both provincial and national credentialing bodies to expedite this effort, focusing on filling high-demand job positions.

    2. A new Secretariat role is in the works to oversee the credentialing process, ensuring that internationally trained individuals have a say in the process by contributing to certification boards. Although I'm hazy on all the finer details, it appears to be a promising development.

    3. Minister Mercier reiterated the importance of the ASPECT International Credential Recognition Fund no less than five times during the town hall meeting (yes, I counted). He championed community-based service providers as ideal for this critical work.

    The meeting featured poignant stories from attendees, shedding light on the challenges they face. For instance, a dentist from her home country, now employed as a dental assistant, humorously remarked that once her credentials are recognized, she'll be paying dentist provincial taxes instead of dental assistant provincial taxes.

    The meeting also delved into issues of access, racism, re-credentialing costs, and the prolonged wait experienced by newcomers and their families for their BC credentials. These concerns are evidently on the government's agenda.

    In case you missed its release over the summer, here is a link to the government report that has informed the coming legislation: Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills What We Heard: Public Engagement on International Credential Recognition.

    Finally, I had a chance to chat with Premier Eby and told him about ASPECT’s invitation to him to speak at the ASPECT conference. His response that it is “doable” is all I remember from that part of the conversation. I really would like him to meet you and see first-hand the passion and expertise of the people in the room and the sector. Fingers crossed!

    Janet Morris-Reade

  • October 06, 2023 11:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This week, I have a couple of updates for you that I think might interest you. 
    An Invitation from the Premier
    ASPECT and several of our members and their clients have been invited to an in-person town hall focused on international credential recognition with Premier David Eby, Minister of State for Workforce Development Andrew Mercier, and Minister of Education Rachna Singh. There is also a virtual option, and I was asked to extend the invitation to you. Here is the invite:

    Please feel free to share this Zoom invite with your colleagues, staff or members of your organizations and programs so they can join us and encourage them to raise their hands in Zoom if they want to ask a question directly to the premier.

    When: Tuesday, October 10th at 10:30-11:30 AM

    Zoom Link:

    Passcode: 281307

    As you may remember, ASPECT received $1.5 million this year to establish an ICR fund where we distributed grants to 17 organizations throughout the province. Our first roundtable of all the grant recipients also happens on Tuesday, where we will take our first step toward creating a community of practice.
    Conference Accommodation – Room Block Deadline Extended
    I am delighted that the ASPECT Conference is sold out and we have established a waiting list.
    We also managed to extend the deadline for hotel room bookings until Thursday, October 12. I want to apologize to all of you who have had difficulty reserving your room and thank you for your patience. Last week we suggested that you use the online booking form but have since learned that it, too, is having technical difficulties.
    The hotel now suggests that you email or call them directly to make your reservations and to access the spectacular conference hotel rate of $219 per night. Although the room booking deadline is extended, some nights have limited availability so reserve now!
    The group code is ASPECT BC 2023.
    or call the hotel directly at (236) 305-5339

    Rooms are available for October 31, November 2, and November 3. Come to the conference early to attend the Mental Health Strategies for CDPs workshop (register here) or do a little shopping. Unfortunately, with the venue change, we could not extend the conference room rate to Saturday night this year.

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO

  • September 28, 2023 11:01 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    New Publication for ASPECT

    Something happened last week that I thought you might find interesting. Two years ago, we conducted research with help from the Government of Canada and the Future Skills Centre about the transition of career development practitioners to virtual services, particularly in their challenges to meet the needs of clients underrepresented in the workforce. The research methods in the Competency of Career Development Practitioners for Virtual Services project included focus groups with CDPs and an online survey. We did everything right. The project went through an ethics review, our Virtual Learning Consortium made up of employment service sector leaders vetted the survey questions, and the survey launched with an incentive of a small-amount gift card. The result, however, was chaos!
    Online robots took over our survey and had us spending hours trying to combat the robots as well as refining the data, removing false answers, and setting criteria for valid answers. Since we had two research assistants working with us and had some time in the schedule as we waited for the online results, we wrote a case study about what happened. Last week, this case study, “The Bot Toolbox: An accidental case study on how to eliminate bots from your online survey” was finally published by the Journal of Social Thought.
    Not only would you find our experiences interesting if you were to do your own research, but you might also find it interesting because many of our Aspectives readers participated in that online survey. Thanks to our research assistants Bennett King-Nyberg and Erica Thomson, and our academic leads, Dr. Roberta Borgen and Cassie Taylor, for creating the article and their perseverance in getting it published. It’s a perfect example that sharing that information can be valuable to others when things go horribly wrong. 

    Conference: Register ASAP
    Finally, I want to add a note about the ASPECT Conference and our change to the new venue at the Radisson Hotel Vancouver Airport in Richmond. The conference space is smaller than what we are accustomed to at an ASPECT Conference, which means we are selling out fast, both for conference registrations and hotel rooms at our heavily discounted conference rate. If you are considering registering, please do so ASAP to avoid disappointment. Also, don’t forget to register separately for the in-person workshop: Mental Health Strategies for CDPs. Program details are now available on our website.

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO

  • September 22, 2023 11:08 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Good news for BC's economy. Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey for August 2023 reports that BC's economy is holding steady, with the growth of 12,000 jobs in August. The monthly unemployment rate for BC is 5.2%, the second-lowest in the country and below the national average. Of course, none of this surprises those in the employment services sector who work in community microcosms of the larger labour market. Each community has its ebbs and flows depending on demand, but for data wonks like me, I love spending time with the numbers. 

    A tighter labour market is forcing employers to look for non-traditional workers, and the Conference Board of Canada and the Future Skills Centre released a new report called Opportunity for all: Improving Workplace Experiences and Career Outcomes for Canadians With Disabilities. With a small sample size of 30 key informants with disabilities, the study examines the barriers Canadians with disabilities face in the workplace and offers strategies that employers and governments can undertake to improve career advancement for people with disabilities. I don't think that any of you will be particularly surprised by the results in the report. Still, it is another excellent, short, easy-to-ready document that can be used to inform employers and government. It distills many systemic challenges workers with disabilities face in getting a job and progressing along their career path. 

    Data such as the Labour Force stats and small but mighty research reports provide compelling evidence. With it, we collectively can create new opportunities for transforming the workforce to be inclusive while responding to our current dynamic labour market in BC.

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO

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