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Representation & Community Networks Matter

December 07, 2023 8:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Tuesday, December 12, is officially recognized as Christine Sinclair Day by royal proclamation (see image at right). For those unfamiliar, Christine Sinclair is a BC-born and raised soccer player who started her career with the Canadian Women's Soccer Team at 16 and recently retired at 40.
Despite not being a soccer fan, I took my daughters to witness a world qualifying game in Vancouver against Team USA. The experience was a teachable moment for my 9- and 10-year-old daughters, allowing them to witness female athletes' strength and outstanding skills in real life. A decade ago, women's sports did not enjoy the same profile as today, making the event particularly special in a venue like Rogers Stadium. The underlying message within my memory is that representation matters not only to those in the field but also to aspiring individuals and observers.
In the realm of employability training and employment services, Truth and Reconciliation, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion are paramount. This work involves close collaboration with both service seekers and employers within the community, preparing them for the evolving workforce. A recent session on the development of a new Canadian Job Development Network underscored the importance of engaging employers to recognize the value of hiring diverse and barriered populations. Crucially, existing networks between employment service providers and employers should extend beyond wage subsidies, aiding employers in reshaping their hiring goals.
Unfortunately, we've observed employer groups receiving funds to establish new training programs, often lacking expertise in career development. Simultaneously, the current network of experts remains underutilized and underfunded. While public funders plan to design more virtual services over larger regions, there's a concern that this may come at the expense of community service providers maintaining vital relationships between job seekers and employers.
Leveraging these community connections is imperative to meet our province's economic needs. They play a pivotal role in helping employers comprehend the changing labour market, showcasing possibilities and financial benefits in recruiting from equity-seeking populations. Similar to how my children witnessed strong female athletes shaping their worldview through representation, community employment service providers can guide employers toward recognizing new possibilities. Indeed, representation matters, acting like a snowball effect continually building momentum.

Janet Morris-Reade, CEO

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